Gulf Coast Autumn: Purple

American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

To my eye the loveliest of our autumn fruits, the elegant beautyberry is more than a local delight. Spreading across the eastern third of Texas into Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, its form and autumn colors are unmistakable. As its leaves begin to yellow, they complement the developing fruit; once the leaves have fallen, the rich, purple berries decorate winter gardens and landscapes.

Birds enjoy its fruit throughout the fall and early winter, scattering its seed so widely the plants can appear almost anywhere: in goldenrod-filled fields; along stream edges; in vine-filled thickets.

Should seeds drop in open areas and fine conditions allow the plants to thrive, their enthusiasm for growth is obvious. Reaching high above their companions, they showcase their fruits against the thinning autumn sky: as heart-stopping as any flaming maple, as compelling as the sounds of migration.

Once the beautyberry has turned, the season has turned, as well.


Comments always are welcome.