Category Archives: Beautyberry

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:


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


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.


Picking and cooking beautyberry

Those small violet berries in the woods: it’s beautyberry, and you can eat it. (No, not pokeberry; those are larger, and the stems are purple.) Beautyberry grows in clumps that you can pick like you’re milking the bush.

First, find some ripe ones:

Pick them and wash them:

And boil them:

To be continued….

Pictures of Callicarpa americana, Lowndes County, Georgia, 12 Oct 2010, as well as picking, cooking, by Gretchen Quarterman.


Elsie Quarterman Cedar Glade Festival

Dr. Elsie Quarterman, Vanderbilt Professor of Plant Ecology Emerita, with students and some grand-students:


This is Elsie’s 100th year: Continue reading

VDT: Quarterman Road project completed

The Valdosta Daily Times caught me working on being tactful.

Matt Flumerfelt’s writeup actually conflates two different county commission meetings, but gets the gist right:

The fate of the tree canopies lining the rural road were thought to hang in the balance. Several residents spoke in favor of the paving, citing dangerous conditions along the road during periods of stormy weather.

John and Gretchen Quarterman, whose ancestors lent their name to the country lane, led the fight to preserve the road in its original pristine dirt-road condition.

A longleaf pine on Quarterman Road. The forest along Quarterman Road is “a scrap of the longleaf fire forest that used to grow from southern Virginia to eastern Texas,” said John Quarterman following the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This forest has been here since the last ice age.”

Quarterman Road, pre-paving, was the kind of dirt road down which Huckleberry Finn might be envisioned skipping barefoot with a fishing rod projecting over one shoulder.

It was the kind of road near which Thoreau might have planted a cabin.

“Many people don’t know that a longleaf pine forest has more species diversity than anything outside a tropical rain forest,” Quarterman said. “In our woods, we have five species of blueberries, …

Oh, the beaver will be mad. I forgot to mention the beaver.

The rest of the story is on the VDT web pages. More pictures of the event in the previous blog entry.

For pictures of what lives in the forest, see longleaf burning gopher tortoises, snakes, frogs, bees and butterflies, spiders and scorpion, and raccoon, and beautyberry, pokeberry, passion flower, pond lily, ginger lily, Treat’s rain lily (native only to south Georgia, north Florida, and a bit of Alabama), thistle, sycamore, palmetto, mushrooms, lantana, magnolia, grapes, yellow jessamine, dogwood, and native wild azaleas.

The VDT has a good picture of Gretchen cutting the ribbon.

But it’s not over just because one road project is completed:

“More people around the county seem to be paying attention these days. Commissioners tell us that already another road in the county has had its canopy saved during paving, and the commission has promised residents of Coppage Road that if their road is paved, their canopy will be saved. Commissioners even seem to like the idea of recognizing canopy roads as a feature of quality of life for residents of the county and for visitors.”

We have a forest. The county just has roads.

Now let’s go see what they’re doing to the rest of our roads. And schools, and waste management, and biofuels, and industry…. If you’d like to help, please contact the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.