When I first saw this plant it was in the fall. The berries shimmered with the prettiest purple I had ever seen. Like someone had dipped them in a melted crayola crayon. Which color would I choose from the box? Purple Heart? Vivid Violet? Purple Pizzazz? Razzle Dazzle Rose? Perhaps Callicarpa has its own shade and hue, not yet named in the Crayola list. Usually Mother Nature outdoes us, after all. The common name for this polished, perfect purple…. Beautyberry. Because it’s beautiful!
Well, then the seasons rolled on and I observed this shrub in winter, bare of leaves and ordinary, in the spring, small green leaves and ordinary, and in the summer, the same green leaves and still ordinary. It didn’t have much to recommend it or set it apart other than that dazzling fall berry. But that berry is so potent, so intense so shocking in it’s purple prettiness, that the rest of the year really doesn’t matter! There is a new variety called Summer Snow with a creamy variegated leaf, which adds some interest to the spring and summer, setting it apart from any-other-shrub of plain green leaves. I think either plant would be useful in a back border, as they reach 5-6 feet tall. Mixed in with spring and summer flowering shrubs, beautyberry would contribute to the autumn appeal.
Just the Facts
Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’
Zones 5-8 and Full Sun
Deciduous Shrub with ornamental berries
Moderate growth rate to 6 feet tall and wide (1.8m)
Pink flowers in summer, attracts birds.
Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Summer Snow’
Zones 6-10 and Full Sun
Deciduous variegated leaves with ornamental berries
Moderate growth rate to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide (1.5 to 1.2m)
Prefers evenly moist soil
Pink flowers in spring