The beautyberry plant is listed by the Univ. of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences as one of the 50 most important plants in Florida because of it’s historical, cultural and horticultural purposes to native American Indians and early settlers. The clump of purple berries on this plant are used as a food source for birds, deer and other types of wildlife. Some people claim the leaves can be used in a solution to ward off mosquitoes in humans and horses. The roots of the plant are also rich in starch and has been used as a food source. Ethnobotany was a term probably developed by a botanist in Florida in the late 1800’s who studied the use of native plants as a source of fiber (to make ropes, baskets and clothing), construction material for building shelters, dyes for coloring textiles, herbal remedies and the development of pharmaceuticals. I saw and photographed this beautyberry in the garden in front of the visitor center at the Six Mile Slough Preserve in Ft. Myers. I have seen several American beautyberry plants along the Ten Mile Canal. It’s berries ripen in September and October and can be seen in full bloom now in September. There are some good pictures of this plant at the US Wildflowers website. The beautyberry grows in Florida and as far north as Maryland as well as in states such as Texas and Arkansas.
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