Monday, August 22, 2011

Beautyberry Plants help beat the skeeters

I've always loved the American Beautyberry plant (Callicarpa americana), not just because it produces beautiful purple berries in the fall, but because every bird and critter that moves through my yard love to munch on those berries. Being a wildlife lover, I appreciate any plant that attracts more wildlife.

Wildlife: The fruit is high in moisture content and is an important food source for more than forty species of songbirds including the American Robin, Brown Thrasher, Purple Finch, and Eastern Towhee. The drupes or clusters are eaten by armadillo, foxes, opossum, raccoon and squirrels. White tailed deer consume the fruit in the fall after leaf drop. They also browse the leaves in summer when highly preferred foods are not available. Protein content of the leaves ranges from 18 percent in spring to 8 percent in fall. (Source)

Beautyberry is a native plant that requires absolutely no additional care in my yard.

BUT, I'm starting to appreciate the beautyberry plant for a whole new's ability to help repel mosquitoes.

I had heard about the mosquito repelling qualities of beautyberry long before I finally gave it a try. But for the last week or so, I've been using it when I go outside in the evenings.

I pull a few leaves off of a plant and crush the leaf and roll it on my arms and legs. I can honestly say that I have seen a drastic reduction in the number of mosquito bites.

Studies by the USDA Agriculture Research Service have concluded that the compound found in these plants - "callicarpenal" - may be as effective as DEET in warding off moquitoes.

If you don't have any beautyberry plants on your property, I encourage you to get one or two. Do it for the critters that love them (birds and more), the critters that hate them (mosquitoes!), or just for yourself. Every garden can use a little more purple!

For more information: Folk Remedy Yields Mosquito-Thwarting Compound


  1. I have had beautyberries for 10 years. The first plant died last winter, but has reseeded, one in the same spot, and another where a buddelia was recently removed. The others in awkward spots are easy to hand pull. It is a lovely fall ornamental- the berries are a really unusual purple color. Now I will value it even more!

  2. Wow, good to know about this plant's repelent properties. Great photo, Betsy!


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