Sunday, June 15, 2008

Beauty-berry


One of the great joys of noticing low country vegetation is Beauty-berry Callicarpa americana L.

This time of year it may be overlooked as there is so much 'green' everywhere. It loves to grow in partial to full shade in maritime forests, fencerows, woodland borders, pine-mixed hardwood and oak-hickory forests, and sandy or rocky woodlands.

I have seen different wildflower books call it American beautyberry, Beautybush and French-mulberry. My resource is 'A Guide to the Wildflowers of SC' by R.D. Porcher and D.S. Rayner. Here in the low country, those in the know feel that Beauty-berry is the best name.

All I know is, come fall, the berries will knock your eyes out. I couldn't wait to paint them. And, did! But, that was before the above mentioned book made it into my library and I entitled it French -mulberry! Oh well, can't use white-out on a watercolor painting :)

There are Beauty-berry shrubs all over Honey Horn Plantation on HHI. My good friend has one growing in her Bluffton yard. They make a great ornamental.

Over 40 species of songbirds eat the berries. They are a favorite of Cardinals, Robins, Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers, Purple Finches and Eastern Towhees. White-tailed Deer will browse the leaves in spring/summer and will eat the fruit in late November after leaf fall. Northern Bobwhite, Raccoon, Opossums and Nine-banded Armadillo also enjoy the fruit.
(Forest Plants of the SE and their Wildlife Uses by James Miller & Karl Miller - another favorite book in my library)

Next time you're in one of the above mentioned habitats, look around and see if you can spot this shrub. The birds may lead you to them come fall. The best watercolor pencil for the berry color is Derwent's Magenta #22 :)