One of America's native plant treasures, beautyberry is aptly named and makes a stunning focal point! Beautyberry is indeed edible, and is even tasty when cooked properly. Berries can be eaten raw, although they have a bland, mealy, astringent flavor and should be eaten in small quantities. Like elderberries, large amounts of them can cause stomach upset. They are much better made into a jam, jelly, sauce, or wine. Beautyberry jam tastes similar to elderberry – mild, palatable, and slightly medicinal. The berries ripen in September through October and are a favorite among wild bird species including cardinals, mockingbirds, finches, woodpeckers and more. Beautyberry is commonly planted in landscape designs to attract wildlife because of the food source the berries provide and the cover animals get from the shrub itself.
The harvested berries, which contain 2 to 4 seeds each, can be treated in several ways; one is planting the berries in the fall for spring germination. American beautyberry seeds can survive several years in the soil bank. Another way is cleaning the seeds using a kitchen blender for small seedlots. Mix the berries with at least five times their volume of water and pour into the blender. Run the blender at its lowest speed using short bursts of a few seconds at a time to separate the skin and tissue from the seeds. Eventually, mature seeds sink to the bottom, while immature seeds, skins and tissue remain near the top. Pour off the unwanted material and repeat the process two or three times. Eventually, a clean seed sample will be left at the bottom of the blender. Drain the seeds and spread them out to dry. After drying, the seeds are ready for planting or storage in a cool, dry place.
1tsp of berries per packet. Stratification for one month often improves germination but may not be required.
Grown for us by Mark Homesteader of Homestead Heirloom Gardens in Floral City, Florida.