It’s a Beauty of Berry

We’ve been watching these little bushes in the understory of our wooded areas. I call them “scribble scrabble” brush, because they look twiggy and overgrown. Nothing really to get excited about during the spring and summer. But when they started popping out bright magenta berries in the fall, we hoped they might be Beautyberries.

Any eagle-eyed natives plant experts out there who can help us verify?

These are keepers, right?

As we clear out some of the invasives (we’re looking at you “bush honeysuckle”), we’ve noticed the Beautyberries are putting out larger berries. This has to be a good thing.

They seem to be short understory bushes, with sparse chartreuse-colored leaves. How good are your eyes? Can you see the rear view of Garden Advisor Sammie in the picture above? She's there in the underbrush, a little camouflaged.

We try to mark the brush and trees we think are keepers, so we don’t inadvertently remove something we can’t ID during its non-performing months. Of course, this time of year, it’s easy to find the Beautyberries. The fruits are not purple like the Beautyberry plants we see at the local nurseries, but we think that’s okay.

Without the berries, these little bushes can really seem like woodland clutter. So, we have to be careful not to remove them when we're in "bush honeysuckle" rage. This has reinforced the value of learning leaf shapes (and remembering them!) .

Most of the berries have been teensy, little dry, sad, shriveled looking things — easy to miss. This is the first year they seem to be bigger and brighter.

Sorry for the blurry picture! It's the only one I had of the larger berry clusters. And, now that I'm looking closer, I see an evil thorned bramble-looking vine trying to innocently blend in with the berry plants. Nice try, buddy! Your days are numbered.

So our question is this:  They’re Beautyberries, right?  And these are keepers?

Oh, and is it Beautyberry (one word), or Beauty berry (two words)?

And, okay, just one more question — Do we need to be better hosts? Do they need anything from us, like pruning? Or, should we just let ’em go?

Next time — Bush honeysuckle, you suck.

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2 Responses to It’s a Beauty of Berry

  1. It certainly looks like American beautyberry. You can compare the photographs on the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

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