Category Archives: Beautyberry

Callicarpa, corn

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) growing next to corn (Zea mays): two very tasty plants!

Callicarpa

This corn was planted by Terry Davis from seed kept in his family for 100 years.

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Beautyberry as insect repellant

Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, proven insect repellant!

Barbara Pleasant wrote for Mother Earth News April/May 2009, Beautyberry Banishes Bad Biting Bugs: Researches are finding evidence that beautyberry, long used as a folk remedy, really does deter bugs such as ants, ticks and others.

In 2006, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, Miss., found that extracts from beautyberry leaves could match DEET for repelling mosquitoes. The next year, experiments showed that the active ingredients from the leaves (callicarpenal and intermedeol) provided 100-percent repellency of black-legged ticks for three hours. In 2008, the four-person research team, headed by chemist Charles Cantrell in Mississippi and entomologist Jerome Klun in Maryland, published research that added fire ants to the list of pests repelled by essential oil distilled from beautyberry leaves….

Fresh green leaves, crushed and rubbed on people or pets, often repel insects for a couple of hours.

Looks like Charles L. Cantrell of U. Miss. has published several papers about this:

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Beautyberry flowers

Tiny white purplish flowers in a bunch:


Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) at Okra Paradise Farms
by John S. Quarterman, Lowndes County, Georgia, 4 June 2008.

Growing along the stems of a green-smelling bush: Continue reading

French mulberry, or dwarf mulberry, becomes beautyberry

Due to discussion on facebook with Rihard Sexton after the previous post, I dug around a bit, and discovered that beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is also known as dwarf mulberry, French mulberry, and Spanish mulberry, sow berry, and sour berry. That last is especially a misnomer, because its berries are not sour, they taste like flowers. And it turns out that beautyberry was mentioned in books before 1800, it was just mentioned as dwarf mulberry:

Further, William Bartram did mention it in his Travels of 1791, as French mulberry. Curiously, even though Google books does have Bartram’s book, ngrams doesn’t seem to show French mulberry for that date, but does show American mulberry. Even more curious, William Bartram’s father, John Bartram, corresponded with Linnaeus, the founder of modern botanical terminology.

The currently most popular name is beautyberry, which turns out to be related to the scientific genus name, Callicarpa: Greek kalli means beautiful, and Karpos means fruit.

The plant has all sorts of uses: Continue reading

Callicarpa vs. Beautyberry

Google’s latest new thing is which show frequency ngrams, of any given word (or more than one) in books from 1600 to the present. Beware, you can end up there for hours!

Anyway, comparing the common name beautyberry to the scientific name Callicarpa americana, it seems that the “common” name is much newer, at least in books.

Beautyberry is a piney woods bush that fruits as small violet berries that make tasty jars of jelly:

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Preserving beautyberry

Here are some freshly canned jars of beautyberry:

So first you pick and cook the beautyberries, then you strain them and cook them again, and finally, you can them in jars, as you can see Gretchen doing in the video linked through the little picture to the right.

Here is one batch of beautyberry jelly jars:

Pictures and preserving of beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, by Gretchen Quarte rman, Lowndes County, Georgia, 17 Oct 2010

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Straining beautyberry

So far we’ve picked and cook the beautyberries. Now we want to pour it through a strainer to get out any remaining stems or skins. That’s why it’s going to be jelly, not jam. This strainer is an old pillow case.

First get it nice and bubbling.

Then strain it as in the first picture above. Then cook it some more and add sugar.

To be continued….

Straining and cooking of Callicarpa americana by Gretchen Quarterman, Lowndes County, Georgia, 16 Oct 2010.

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