You have probably seen the memes that circulate on social media about the season of “fall” in Florida. One of my favorites is a picture of a palm tree whose single frond has fallen to the ground and the title “Welcome to Fall in Florida!” Others will jokingly tell you that instead of seeing the colors of leaves change, you see the colors of the vehicle license plates change as northerners make their way down to escape their miserable winters. Though these memes can be silly and may or may not have some truth to them, one key indicator of fall in central Florida is seeing the beautiful bright purple berries (more specifically drupes) in production on the American beautyberry bush.
Callicarpa americana, or American beautyberry, is a beautiful native shrub that will abundantly produce purple berries in the fall. The berries are edible but tend to have a bitter taste if eaten directly from the plant. However, when made into a jelly, jam or syrup, it is very sweet and will quickly become a favorite! You can find many recipes online for what you can do with American beautyberries.
The beautyberry plant can get up to 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide, but is very easy to manage and keep small, if you so desire. It is drought-tolerant and can be planted in central Florida year-round.
If you are interested in planting your own American beautyberry bush, consider visiting a local native nursery within the area. The American beautyberry is a favorite of many birds and pollinators alike. The small flower of this shrub is an important source of nectar for many pollinators. For more information on the American beautyberry, visit bit.ly/beautyberry22.
Upcoming programs at UF/IFAS Extension Marion County Office: Ongoing through Nov. 1: Fall Seed Sale. Just in time for your fall gardens, the Master Gardener Volunteers are pleased to present seeds for this upcoming season. Now also is an excellent time to scatter/plant native flowers and other cool-loving varieties — so don’t forget your pollinator-attractors. These seeds have been cleaned, prepared and packaged by a dedicated team and are all suitable to our climate. An advantage to purchasing from our program is the savings. They are packaged in small quantities to avoid waste, and the price is right at $1 per package or six for $5. To place your order and arrange for pick-up, please call the Marion County Extension Office at 671-8400. Payment is by cash or check payable to University of Florida; Oct. 1: Master Gardener Volunteer Fall Plant Sale. The Fall Plant Sale at the UF/IFAS Marion County Extension Service is coming! From trees, shrubs, flowers, natives and Florida-friendly plants, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to support your local Master Gardener Volunteers!
For more information, or to register for programs, call the UF/IFAS Marion County Extension Office at 671-8400.
— Jeremy Rhoden is the Urban & Residential Horticulture Extension Agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator at the UF/IFAS Extension Marion County. For more information, contact the office at 671-8400. The Extension Service is located at 2232 NE Jacksonville Road, Ocala, FL 34470.
This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Jeremy Rhoden: Fall is here! As indicated by the American beautyberry