An American Beauty-berry?

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
George Eliot

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(Photograph: the purple variety of the American Beautyberry–Callicarpa Americana / Troup County, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)

I know what you’re thinking…Julie, why do you have a picture of some purple berries when you obviously mean to be chatting about Fall? And what in the heck is an American beauty…berry of all things?

Ahhhh, not to fear, I have not lost my mind. These delightful little berries are indeed very much all about Fall. I know you were looking, no doubt, for beautiful images of leaves…those of the Autumnal foliage color variety gregariously showboating flames of oranges, red, and golden yellows….We must remember, however, that it’s still September and this is Georgia…we won’t have those sorts of displays for at least 3 more weeks to perhaps even a month longer. I’ve got to make do until then with what we do have available way down here in Dixie.

Look what I found while traipsing out in the woods last weekend. “How terribly pretty are those berries” I thought to my self…how beautiful the brilliant lavenderish purple played off the light yellow green leaves. Not ever claiming to be a botanist, I knew I’ve seen these bushes and berries out in the woods before but assumed that it must be a sort of sumac and no doubt deadly. I was wrong. I know that is quite a revelation for me to admit, my having been wrong, but just don’t let my husband know……remember he’s convinced the wild pears in the woods are poisonous, this news would rock his world….

Once home I conducted a little research looking up information on a southern bush with bright purple berries which appear in the Fall. The very first entry was indeed my plant. It is the American Beautyberry–and is not only relegated to the woods but people actually add these showy little beauties to their yards for landscaping.

They are native to the southern regions of our country and have been used for all sorts of purposes by Native Americans…and no, they are not poisonous—however I’m not about to dash out and consume any part of them as I tend to always be a little leery of bright pretties that grow in the wild. Seems they have been used medicinally for centuries and are also used to repel mosquitoes, flies and more importantly in my world…fire ants. Seems farmers and ranchers in Texas have smeared these pretty little berries on their horses and cattle in order to provide the livestock a little relief from all sort of biting and stinging creatures.

Have you ever flown into Atlanta’s Harstfield-Jackson International Airport and seen the sculptures of the fire ants lining the ceiling out near the baggage claim? Next time in town, look up and you will spy a larger version of my arch nemesis parading along the ceiling and walls. I’ve always thought that instead of the Falcons or the Braves, our sports teams should be the Fire Ants, as that is what seems to be holding the understructure of this state together—one giant red dirt fire ant mound…uggghhh. This should not be news to any of you if you’ve read any of my post regarding my time outside—-simply put, I despise fire ants….I often wonder if it just wasn’t proving to be a really bad day when God made the fire ant—maybe that was after the whole Garden of Eden incident….but I digress….

What a wonderful discovery my time in the woods provided last weekend. I now know a little more than I did before venturing out for my hike. Don’t be surprised if the next time you see me outside, either working in the yard or merely going for a nice walk, if I’m not smeared in a pretty bright purple goo. You’ll just know that I am sporting a little American Beauty…berry.
Take that fire ants!!!

3 comments on “An American Beauty-berry?

  1. Geralyn says:

    They remind me of “gummieberries” of Disney’s “Gummi Bears”. Beautiful colour, Julie!

  2. Nice picture, I love your site and all the good pictures. The American Beautyberry purple berries remind me of the candy Skittles. When my kids were young they love Skittles.

    The American Beautyberry is showing is brilliant colors here in the upstate South Carolina’s too.

    I posted a couple pictures today, take a look: Beautiful Color

    Michael

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