You cannot help but notice the American beautyberry in late summer and fall. Although this deciduous shrub is inconspicuous throughout most of the year, when its fruits are ripe, they are impossible to ignore.
The beautyberry’s fruits (actually drupes) are unlike anything else that you might find displayed in your backyard and beyond. The plant’s showy fruits appear in clusters around the multitude of stems that characterize this native plant. The berries are round and bright violet. The color is so unique, I cannot think of another plant that produces similar fruit.
I have a number of American beautyberries growing in my yard. Since I did not transplant all of them, I am certain they were planted by any one of a number of birds the relish their fruit as much as I enjoy gazing at the berries. I will never know which of my avian neighbors planted these shrubs since more than 40 species of birds gobble up the fruit. The list of potential culprits includes the northern mockingbird, northern cardinal, gray catbird, brown thrasher, northern bobwhite, eastern towhee, and American robin.
When given a chance, the opossum, armadillo, raccoon, and others will also eat their share of the gaudy berry-like fruits.
The American beautyberry will grow in partial shade and full sun. It grows in a wide range of soil types and does not require a lot of water; however, it does best in moist soil.
I learned long ago, there is no perfect plant. Such is the case with the American beautyberry. This hardy plant has a tendency to spread even without the assistance of my wildlife neighbors.
If you do not already have American beautyberry growing in your yard, you might want to try it. It will add to the plant diversity of your wildlife haven, provide food to the wildlife living in your backyard, and add a swash of unique color to your landscape.