The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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American Beautyberry

Scientific Names

American Beautyberry

  • Callicarpa americana
  • Callicarpa dichotoma
  • Verbenaceae family

Common Names

  • American Beautyberry
  • Beautyberry
  • French Mulberry
  • Wild goose’s berries
  • Zi Zhu (Chinese)

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Parts Usually Used

The fruit is eaten raw. The roots, leaves and stems

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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

The fruit is juicy, sweet, fleshy, slightly aromatic[123]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter.

It has a lavender bloom color. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring.

Included in the Red List of Threatened Plants Status.

Callicarpa americana is a deciduous Shrub growing to 1.8 m (6ft) at a slow rate.

It is in flower from June to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
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Where Found

American beautyberry is native to the southern United States. The native range of C. americana extends from Maryland to Florida, west to Texas and Arkansas, and also Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Cuba. Prolific in the wild, the shrub is also popular in ornamental landscaping. It’s known for showy clusters of bright purple berries that begin to ripen in the summer and are an important food source for many species of birds. Found in rich woods and thickets.
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Medicinal Properties

This plant has antibacterial, antiviral, astringent, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and diuretic (root bark) properties. Astringent and cooling, beautyberry is useful to help treat bleeding in the lungs and stomach. The bark of various species of Beautyberry has been tested for antibacterial activity and findings indicate that it targets certain strains of bacteria such as Methicillin-resistent Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Bacillus cereus, Salmonella typhimurium, and many strains of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).

Modern practices also use Beautyberry to treat herpes simplex. A handful of studies have been done to confirm that Beautyberry extracts may actually prevent the replication of herpes simplex and polio viruses.

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Legends, Myths and Stories

The leaves of the Beautyberry also have a long folk history as bug repellent dating back to use by the indigenous tribes of the south. These claims have been confirmed in studies conducted at the University of Mississippi. Three repellent compound chemicals were extracted during a 12-month study: callicarpenal, intermedeol, and spathulenol. The research concluded that all three chemicals repulse mosquitoes known to transmit yellow fever and malaria. It is considered more effective than DEET without the problematic toxins. The simplest way to benefit from the plant’s repellent properties is to pick some leaves and rub them on your skin. As always, just do a skin patch test to ensure you are not allergic.

The berries are an important food source for squirrels, armadillos, raccoons, wood rats, gray foxes, opossums, white-tailed deer, and several types of birds including cardinals, woodpeckers, bobwhite quails, mockingbirds, robins, towhees, and brown thrashers. It has no major pests but caterpillars will sometimes snack on the leaves.

Early 20th-century farmers placed fresh, crushed beautyberry leaves beneath horse and mule harnesses so the plant’s oils could repel biting bugs.

Scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research division isolated beautyberry compounds effective in repelling biting insects. One, callicarpenal, proved to be as effective as DEET in fighting mosquitoes. Other tests found beautyberry compounds also repelled ticks and fire ants.

According to Chemist Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, “My kids and I love to nibble on beautyberries this time of year,” he says. “Raw, they have a slight medicinal taste, but when cooked into a jam or jelly, they really shine. To me the flavor is somewhat like rose petal jam but more complex and downright wonderful.”

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Recent research studies have also shown that a compound in beautyberry leaves is able to boost the effectiveness of antibiotics in treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

A decoction of the root bark has been used as a diuretic.

The leaves are a cure for dropsy.

A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of dysentery and stomach aches.

A tea made from the roots and berries is used in the treatment of colic.

Some native North American Indian tribes used the leaves and roots in sweat baths for the treatment of malaria, rheumatism and fevers.

A tea (infusion) made from the roots was used by native tribes in the Southeast, including the Choctaw, Creek, Koasati, Seminole and other tribes, as a treatment for all manner of stomach issues, from indigestion to gas to mild diarrhea to dysentery.

Roots, leaves, and branches alike were used in sweat baths to treat malarial fevers and rheumatism.

Externally, the bark and stems were used to treat itchy skin.

In Mexico, extracts from Beautyberry leaf are used to treat certain fungi harmful to plants.

Beautyberry has also shown promise in helping treat certain yeast infections caused by Candida albicans.

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Formulas or Dosages

A docoction or tea made from the root or one of these recipes:

Recipe for Beautyberry Insect Repellent

  • 1 cup of crushed Beautyberry leaves
  • 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol
  • 2 drops of desired body wash or spray (personal choice)
  • Personal size spray bottle


  1. Put crushed leaves into a mason jar
  2. Cover the crushed leaves with the rubbing alcohol and let stand for 2 days
  3. Strain the mixture free of the leaves
  4. Add two drops of your body wash or spray
  5. Pour into a mini personal sprayer

*Reapply every couple of hours for best results.

Recipe for Beautyberry Insect Repellent Cream

  • Beautyberry rark from the roots
  • Beautyberry leaves fresh or dried
  • 1 cup of neem oil
  • 1 ounce of beeswax
  • 2 cups of boiling water


  1. Cut up bark, stems, and leaves
  2. Bring two cups of water to a boil
  3. Add the diced mixture of Beautyberry bark, stems and leaves and simmer for 10 minutes
  4. Strain mixture
  5. In a different pot warm the neem oil and then mix in beeswax until melted
  6. Pour neem oil and beeswax mix, into a blender with the strained liquid. Mix slowly until a cream is formed.

*This is perfect for all day uses even in the hot summer months. Only 1 application is needed for all day relief

Recipe for Beautyberry Jelly

  • 6 cups beautyberries
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 envelope of fruit pectin (like Sure Jell)
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar


  1. Find a nice grouping of beautyberry shrubs and pick the ripe berries. Make sure to pick when you’re ready to make your jelly because they over ripen quickly
  2. Wash the berries and remove any stems, leaves, and bugs. **Word of warning, There are often small spiders that like to make their webs on these
  3. Place berries in a pan and crush them with a potato masher or the like
  4. Pour the water into the pan, and boil for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally
  5. Use cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to strain out all the pulp. Squeeze as much of the liquid out as you can
  6. Place 3 cups of the liquid back in the pan add the sure jell, and the sugar. (You can make a second batch with the rest of the liquid)
  7. Boil this mixture for two minutes
  8. Skim off the foam that forms at the top
  9. Carefully pour into sanitized jars
  10. Place jars back in the pot to boil for 10 minutes to seal. Water should cover the jars

**Over or undercooking can cause the jelly not to set. Too little heat will not activate the pectin and too much will break it down. It happens to the best of us. Allow jellies to cool fully before you determine whether they have set or not. If they did not set, all is not lost. For each quart of jam or jelly to be fixed, mix 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice, and 4 teaspoons powdered pectin in a large pot and try again.
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There are no major concerns with this plant. Some people have reported stomach issues with it and others may be sensitive to it topically. As with all plants and foods, there is always the risk of allergy.

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Resource Links

Futurity: Beautyberry Compund Aids Antibiotic Against MRSA

Emory University: Beautyberry leaf extract restores drug’s power to fight ‘superbug’

Plants for a Future: Callicarpa americana – L.

Beautyberries’ powers go beyond good looks

Foraging Texas: American Beautyberry

Weeds and Deeds: American Beautyberry

A Common Plant That Helps Fight MRSA and Repels Mosquitoes and Ticks


Buy It! Foraging: Over 30 Tasty Recipes to Turn Your Foraged Finds into Feasts (Idiot’s Guides), by Mark Vorderbruggen

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