I have a lot of this plant here on the farm. I always thought of it as just a weed, and that I should just get rid of It, But I did some research because I thought that the birds at least loved the berryies. I found out some interesting things.
Callicarpa americana, the American beautyberry, is an open-habit, native shrub of the Southern United States which is often grown as an ornamental in gardens and yards. American beautyberries produce large clusters of purple berries, which birds and deer eat, thus distributing the seeds.
Use Ornamental: Of considerable value for edge landscapes and surface mine reclamation. Good understory shrub. Easily propagated and requires little maintenance.
Use Wildlife: Valuable as a wildlife food plant.
Use Medicinal: Native American used root and leaf tea in sweat baths for rheumatism, fevers, and malaria. Root tea used for dysentery, stomach aches. Root and berry tea used for colic.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: No
Warm weather brings out the big three of biting bugs: mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus, deer ticks that carry Lyme disease and, in warm climates, fire ants that can quickly take over your yard. Instead of using toxic DEET to protect yourself, wouldn’t it be great to use leaves gathered from a native shrub?
This is exactly what you can do with beautyberry (Callicarpa americana ), a deciduous shrub of the southeastern woods best known for its bracelet-like clusters of showy purple berries that ripen in fall. Compounds found in beautyberry leaves have shown amazing natural insect repellent properties, proving the worth of the centuries-old practice of placing leaves under mule harnesses to deter biting insects.
In 2006, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, MS, found that extracts from beautyberry leaves could match DEET for repelling mosquitoes. The next year, experiments showed that the active ingredients from the leaves (callicarpenal and intermedeol) provided 100-percent repellency of black-legged ticks for three hours. In 2008, the four-person research team, headed by chemist Charles Cantrell in Mississippi and entomologist Jerome Klun in Maryland, published research that added fire ants to the list of pests repelled by essential oil distilled from beautyberry leaves.
Beautyberry Jelly Recipe
- 6 cups beautyberries
- 8 cups water
- 1 envelope of sure jell
- 4 1/2 cups sugar
Wash the berries and remove any stems, leaves or bugs.
Place berries in a pan, and crush them with a potato masher.
Pour the water into the pan, and boil for 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
Use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the pulp.
Place 3 cups of the liquid back in the pan add the sure jell, and the sugar. (You can make a second batch with the rest of the liquid)
Boil this mixture for two minutes.
Skim off foam.
Pour into jars.
Well, that’s all the news from the south,
Happy” farming” to all the farm girl sisters out there.
See you next time down on the farm.