This plant can produce abundant volunteers from the many seeds that drop to the soil. The flowers are produced on new growth, so prune plants after the fruits are gone to increase the next year’s growth and berry production. The plants can take a hard pruning and may be pruned to the ground level in the winter if desired.
American beautyberry is a moderately shade intolerant, early- to mid-seral species [3,38]. In the longleaf pine/bluestem (Pinus palustris/Andropogon spp.) range in the Big Thicket region of eastern Texas, American beautyberry was an early invader of openings created by disturbance . It was the only understory shrub present 19 years after timber harvest in a southern Arkansas pine-oak forest (density=546 plants/ha). Its density declined with succession, lowering to 28 plants/ha at postharvest year 75 .
The seeds of American beautyberry are an important food source for birds and small mammals. At least 10 species of birds feed on the fruit, especially northern bobwhite. The fruit is also eaten by raccoon, opossum, and gray fox .
American beautyberry is considered one of the most desirable spring and summer browse of white-tailed deer [1,10]. Cattle occasionally browse on the leaves of American beautyberry .
General: Vervain Family (Verbenaceae). American beautyberry is a native, perennial shrub. These small, deciduous shrubs reach from 1 to 2 m in height. The leaves are opposite, elliptical to ovate in shape (7 to 15 cm long) and have saw-toothed margins. The under-side of the leaves can be covered with white or rust-colored woolly hairs. The inconspicuous blue, violet, pink, or white flowers are borne in axillary clusters that bloom from late spring to early summer. The flowers are funnel-shaped with four clefs. The round, showy, violet or magenta drupes or fruits are 4-5 mm in diameter. The very juicy fruits, containing from 2 to 4 seeds, begin to ripen in August or September. These colorful fruits remain on the shrubs long after the leaves drop.
Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Habitat: American beautyberry shrubs occur in dry open woods, moist woods, thickets and hammocks. They occur as understudy species in upland pine forests, upper slope pine-oak forests and old-growth maritime forests. These shrubs are adapted to climates with hot, humid summers and moderate winters.