There are many shrubs that offer colorful foliage in the fall but only a few produce colorful fruit. Of those, none can compete with the exquisite showiness of the Purple Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’). This moderately sized, compact, rounded deciduous shrub bears clusters of brilliant, glossy purple fruit all along the arching stems. The fruit is so abundant and so striking that visitors sometimes comment “is that real?”.
The cultivar ‘Early Amethyst’ is noted for fruit that ripens earlier in the season, usually mid to late September in our area, thereby providing a long season of interest. The green leaves turn yellow/orange and contrast strikingly with the purple fruit before dropping. The eye-catching purple fruit remains on the plant late into the autumn, even after the leaves have fallen. In addition to their beauty, the attractive fruit is also a food source for local and migrating songbirds.
Care & Maintenance
Beautyberry is a relatively carefree plant. It is not prone to insect or disease damage and is rarely browsed by deer. It blooms and sets fruit on the current season’s growth and the best performance is achieved by pruning the shrub down to 6”-12” in late winter/early spring. In harsh Wisconsin winters, the top growth may die to the ground, but the plant will re-sprout from the base and grow to its full height, bloom & set fruit the following season. As with many fruit-bearing plants, superior fruit production will be achieved by planting two or more of these plants in a group.
Early Amethyst in a Nutshell
Mature height: 3’-4’
Mature spread: 4’-5’
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Growth form: Rounded form with slender arching stems that produce a slightly cascading effect
Flowers: Small, pinkish-lavender flowers in summer
Fruit: Abundant clusters of bright, glossy, amethyst-purple fruit in autumn