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French Mulberry

September 2011

QuestionLast weekend we were out hiking and saw the most unusual bush. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I am hoping you can figure it out from my description. It had oval green leaves, and then up and down the stem at about 4 inch intervals were clusters of bright purple berries, completely circling the stem. Any ideas? If you know what it is, where can I buy one and what kind of conditions does it need to grow well?


AnswerThe plant in question is a beautyberry or French mulberry— Callicarpa americana. It is a native plant that is a tough performer in both full sun to partial shade. Some nurseries do carry the native species, while others sell newer cultivars. There are plants with light purple and white berries also, but I personally love the bright purple. Give it a few weeks and the deciduous leaves will start to turn yellow and the combination of yellow and purple is eye catching. If you know someone who has one they are often willing to share, since it propagates readily. Plan to come to the plant sale at Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs, October 7 & 8. They always sell them. We are also sponsoring a New Plants Workshop at the Gardens on Friday, Oct. 7. For more information and to pre-register call (800) 366-4664.      


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