• Jenny Lynn Keller

Beautiful Berries


When the outdoor heat index reaches 100 degrees several days in a row and the humidity tags not far behind, I’m over summer. Three weeks of rainless, record-breaking high temperatures take no prisoners, and my garden shows it—with one exception, the American beautyberry bush. This shrub deserves a salute for its endurance. Deer decline a taste, and drought rarely droops it. Grows in any soil type and tolerates shade. For herbalists, almost every part is useful from the leaves to the roots. If you like to make jelly, I’m told the berries produce a delicious spread for toast and biscuits. With all these accolades, why is the shrub overlooked by most landscapers? The tiny pink summer flowers appear along the stems in small clusters and aren’t visible from a distance. Who wants a prolific grower without large showy blooms?


Birds. During the Fall, each tiny flower morphs into a brilliant purple berry prized by every bird in the neighborhood. Unlike most plants and shrubs, beautyberry waits until later in the year to shine and reveal its primary purpose. A perfect example of Ecclesiastes 3:11, “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” Reassuring words for folks of all ages and a gentle reminder for impatient gardeners.


What’s one of your favorite berries?

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