Plant of the Week: Beautyberry

It is that time of year on the High Line when our visitors begin to notice the subtle shift in color on display throughout the park. As the vibrancy of summer delicately dwindles into a camouflage of earth-toned hues, it's usually a sure sign that the cooler seasonal months have arrived. Gardeners embrace this transitional period, as it allows for a brief moment to occur when certain plants can take center stage in the park. One such plant is Callicarpa dicotoma, also known as beautyberry.

Photo by: Ayinde Listhrop

Yellow-green, pink, magenta and violet contribute to the range of color exhibited by the beautyberry. These small clusters of fruit are easily accessible to wildlife because of their ornate arrangement along thin drooping stems. Known to attract a variety of different species including songbirds, foxes, raccoons, and squirrels, this plant is consumed for the fruit's moisture content and the leaves as a reliable source of protein.

Photo by: Ayinde Listhrop

Traditionally, all parts of the beautyberry bush have been used for medicinal purposes to treat stomachaches, dizziness and severe fevers. However, a more unique characteristic of this plant is its ability to repel mosquitoes. This quality, attributed to chemical compounds callicarpenal and intermedeol, was used by farmers to ward off irritating pests.

Photo by: Ayinde Listhrop

PLANTING TIP

Callicarpa dicotoma is native perennial to China, Japan, and Korea. Growing three to four feet tall, Callicarpa dicotoma grows in groups found in moderately dense woodland thickets. Callicarpa dicotoma prefers moist soils.

When planting, be cautious of its location as it is sought after for sustenance by deer and other animals. Plant it in a partly shaded area with low ground and cover in order to protect the bush from unwanted vermin.

Callicarpa dicotoma is susceptible to black mold and leaf spot, but once established, requires minimal care throughout the year.

WHERE TO FIND THIS PLANT

This plant is located in the Gansevoort Woodland section on the west side of the High Line, between Little West 12th St. and 13th St.

The High Line's planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 500 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. Every week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects.


TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.

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