Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Falling in Love with the Beautyberry

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Falling in Love with the Beautyberry

Article excerpt

Byline: Beverly Fleming

The calendar says fall has arrived, so start watching for those subtle changes in color we look so forward to seeing.

Places to look include your own yard and local parks, but don't forget to look along roadways and at the Agricultural Center on Oct. 3-4. (I will be speaking on attracting wildlife by using native plants on Sunday at 10 a.m. See page 7 for more details.)

I have noticed differences in blooming and growing characteristics during this rainy year. Many flowers have bloomed less and later than usual.

But some plants are really thriving because of the extra moisture. The wild persimmon trees are turning color and seem to be loaded with fruit. The red/gold of the leaves is very distinctive.

Poison ivy is very evident this time of year as the bright red leaves show up very well against the gray trunks of pines and among the greens of other vines. The Indian grass has turned a beautiful color and the Muhly grass will soon show its misty pink inflorescence. The maple trees are showing the red and burgundy leaves we expect.

One of my favorites, however, is the beauty of the bright magenta beautyberry. The Calicarpa americana is a shrub of roadside and garden and comes in at least three forms. One is a weeping form, one is upright and a third comes with white berries. My favorite is the upright purple variety because it takes no special care to grow this terrific accent plant.

Beautyberry is great for fence rows or hedges. It is a strong shrub that can become leggy, but when grown in clumps or with other shrubs, it shines at a time when others are waning. It can be cut back to suit almost any space but is best left to its own pattern. The pale pink flowers are not conspicuous but as soon as the berries start to form, they are obvious even before coloring because they form between the stem and the leaf base at each set of leaves. …

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