American Beautyberry


American Beautyberry is a gorgeous shrub native to the southeastern United States known for its electric purple berries that appear in the late summer/early fall. The berries look like candy for birds and can last on the branches through the winter. They are fast growers, like sun to part sun, and can get 4-6 feet tall. This was once one of the most common shrubs in the south—let’s bring it back! Discover planting tips and varieties below.

Full Sun – Part Sun
6′ tall
Berries appear in the fall
Callicarpa Americana

Electric purple berries!

Dig Deeper

Explore the history, types, and where to plant native American Beautyberry.

Table of Contents

Why is it important to plant native plants like American Beautyberry?

Planting native plants makes our yards and spaces gorgeous while helping the birds, butterflies, and animals (and helping save us time!) Here are three reasons why planting native is worth it:

  1. Without native plants, iconic animals like Monarch butterflies and songbirds won’t have the food or homes needed to survive
  2. Native plants save time and money: after the first year of getting established, native plants are happy with rain
  3. Native plants are gorgeous! American Beautyberries are a perfect example of how beautiful and resilient native plants are—they are always the best choice for our gardens.

History of the American Beautyberry

The American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is due for a comeback. According to 1925 edition of North American Wildflowers, the American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), “is one of the most common plants of the Southern States.”

Imagine how incredible it must have been 100 years ago to see thousands of these shrubs covered in electric purple berries in the southern landscape. 

The 1925 North American Wildflowers continues, “This native species is much more showy than the related Asiatic species, but is rarely cultivated. It occurs from Florida northward to Virginia and westward to Texas and Missouri.” Today, due to climate change, the American Beautyberry region has also extended northward to include Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia.

American Beautyberry throughout the seasons

No matter the season, American Beautyberries look gorgeous.


In the spring, American Beautyberries send out bright green leaves and cover their stalks with tiny fairy-like purple flowers.

Early summer

In the early summer, American Beautyberry flowers give way to green berries, which then change to purple in a gorgeous gradient.

Late Summer – Fall

In the summer and early fall, the berries turn on their neon purple show alongside green leaves.


In the fall in northern climates, the leaves change to a warm yellow before they fall. In more southern locations like Florida, the leaves remain evergreen. The electric purple berries remain on Beautyberry’s stem, making it easy for songbirds to find a snack.

And then back to the beautiful fairy-like flowers all over again in the spring.

NC State Extension shared a great overview video of the plant throughout the seasons, including its fairy-like spring blossoms.

Be careful: there are non-native Beautyberry shrubs at many nurseries

There are many plants that have both native and non-native species; lilies and wisteria are two examples.

Four species of beautyberry are often found at nurseries: one is native to North America, and the other two are native to Asia. 

  1. American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is the focus of this article
  2. Japanese Beautyberry (Callicarpa japonica)  no surprise, is native to Japan
  3. Chinese Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) — many cultivars in nurseries come from this plant
  4. Bodinier’s Beautyberry (Callicarpa bodinieri) is also native to China

How can I make sure I’m planting a native American Beautyberry?

Look at the tag—Latin names were invented exactly for this purpose. Every plant has only one Latin name. The only plant you’ll want to buy will have the Callicarpa americana name on the tag. If it doesn’t include this, be wary.

There is one other way to check the native vs. non-native: look at the berry stems. (Sincere thanks to Cassandra from Kentucky for sharing this tip!)

How do I know if the beautyberry is native or not?

At the nursery looking at beautyberries? Look at the berries. If the berries are jutting out on a stem—it’s non-native. 

Non-native Beautyberry

Non-native beautyberry berries are on stems that jut out

Do the berries hang off stems? That is the telltale sign of one of the three non-native Asian species.

Native Beautyberry

Native American Beautyberry berries hug the stems in dramatic orbs

Do the berries hug the stem in beautiful round orbs? That’s a native Callicarpa americana.

Finally, to be sure you’re planting native, visit a native nursery. Here’s our list of 100+ native nurseries across America.

Where does American Beautyberry do best?

American Beautyberries are so easy to grow because they do well is lots of different areas:

  • Full sun to part-sun. 
  • Fast growers
  • Grow 4-6 feet wide and tall.
  • Plant them underneath trees on the edges of your property, or in the center of gardens with shorter plants in front.

How much space do American Beautyberries need?

These shrubs get 4-6′ wide. When you plant them smaller, put perennials alongside to help fill in the space. As the Beautyberry grows, dig up the perennials and move them to other spots in your garden. 

Plant a few, together!

American beautyberries look especially awe-inspiring when planted in multiples. If there is a semi-sunny area along your driveway or at the edge of your yard, plant a few. Bonus if you plant them near a window view, so you can watch the birds eat the berries throughout the fall and winter.

No pesticides or herbicides

Avoid using pesticides or herbicides near American Beautyberry plants, as they can harm the birds and pollinators that visit the plant.

How to grow American Beautyberry

By seed or propagation

You can propagate this shrub from seed or by taking stem cuttings in the spring. Plant by seed if you’re patient, by cutting to be a little faster.

Grow Beautyberry by seed

If you’re patient, you can grow American Beautyberry by seed. It will take a few years for the plant to reach bushy-size. To plant by seed:

  1. Take some of the bright purple berries in the fall
  2. Plant them directly in the garden, 1/2″ deep
  3. Wait 3-5 months
  4. Shoots will emerge in the spring

Grow American Beautyberry by cuttings

You can simply cut a stem from a friend’s yard in the spring to make your own American beautyberry by “propagation.” To propagate from a cutting:

  1. Wait until the spring
  2. Cut 4-6 inch stems from a healthy plant
  3. Dip the bottom tip of the cutting into rooting hormone before planting (if needed, you can remove the leaves on the bottom to help place them in the dirt)
  4. Place the cuttings in small pots with an all-purpose soil mix (nothing fancy is needed)
  5. Keep your cutting in a warm place indoors in bright, indirect light
  6. The cutting should begin to grow 2-3 weeks after planting
  7. It will be ready to plant in your garden 2 months later!

Grow American Beautyberry from plants

American Beautyberry plants will normally fruit the first year they are planted and will return in the following years taller and bigger.

As you look to buy for find American Beautyberries for your garden, a tip:

Local blooms, fewer glooms

Try to find plants and seeds from within 800 miles of where you live.

Plants and seeds from within 800 miles are best suited for your weather, water, and sunshine. This also fosters cross-pollination among locally grown plants, enhancing the resilience of seeds and plants for generations to come. Stay local for a happy garden!

Buy American Beautyberry plants online

Buy or find American Beautyberry plants nearby

There are four reliable ways to find American Beautyberry plants for your yard in your community:

American Beautyberry

Where can I find seeds and plants?

Finding native plants can be challenging (we partly blame Marie Antoinette.) To make it easier, we’ve assembled four sourcing ideas.

Native Plant Nurseries

Our list of native nurseries makes finding one a breeze

Online Communities

Local Facebook groups are a great plant source

What pairs well with American Beautyberry?

American Beautyberries look fantastic alongside other native shrubs such as Azaleas, Mountain Laurel, Rhododendrons, and Sweetshrub. If you have a fence or trellis nearby, you have to plant the native vines Coral Honeysuckle or American Wisteria. If you want flowers (and who doesn’t?!) plant milkweed, coneflower, mountain mint, and asters

Native shrubs

Mountain Laurel

Native flowers

We hope you’re feeling inspired to add a splash of electric purple to your landscape with American Beautyberry! Not only is this native shrub stunning to look at, but it’s also a great way to support local ecosystems. By following our tips for cultivation and care, you can easily incorporate this hardy and beautiful plant into your garden or natural area. Happy planting!