American Beautyberry – Callicarpa americana

This interesting member of the Verbena family is listed as Endangered, possibly Extirpated in Maryland. It is a deciduous bush with the most interesting purple berries in the fall. They last long into the winter and are enjoyed by many over wintering birds.

The berries are astringent and aromatic, being sweet, juicy, and fleshy. For human consumption they are best in small quantities.

Native Indians had many uses for the Beautyberry, among them: A decoction of the root bark as a diuretic; the leaves for dropsy; a tea from the roots for dysentery and stomach aches; A tea made from the roots and berries for colic; and, the leaves and roots in sweat baths for the treatment of malaria, rheumatism and fevers. The leaves crushed and rubbed on the skin offer protection from mosquitoes.

American Beautyberry - showing purple fruit
American Beautyberry – showing purple fruit

Beautyberry Jelly

 

1 ½ qts. Beautyberries, washed and clean of green stems and leaves.

Cover with 2 qts. water

Boil 20 minutes and strain to make infusion

Use 3 cups of the infusion, bring to boil, add 1 envelope Sure-Jell and 4 ½ cups sugar. Bring to second boil and boil 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand until foam forms.

Skim off foam, pour into sterilized jars, cap.

Adapted from “Florida’s Incredible Wild Edibles” by Richard Deuerling and Peggy Lantz.

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One response to this post.

  1. Why are they called Beautyberries? All of the uses listed above have to do with illness, not beauty. Were they just called this because they are lovely themselves?

    Reply

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