Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii “Profusion” – Beautyberry

When you come across a latin name like Callicarpa bodinieri var giraldii “Profusion” (known to its friends as Cal) you can understand why some people are daunted by horticultural nomenclature, it hardly trips off the tongue.  The component parts however all have a relevance and add to our understanding of the plant and its history.  The word callicarpa comes from the Greek kallos meaning beautiful and karpos meaning fruit.  Bodineri and Giraldi, French and Italian respectively, were missionaries and amateur botanists instrumental in introducing this plant from west central China in the 19th century.   Profusion of course refers to the masses of violet/purple berries produced every season.  The tiny pink flowers are nothing to get too excited by, unless you are an insect.  There is some autumn leaf colour and the fresh shoots in spring have an attractive bronze tinge but the main event is the spectacular fruit, the clusters becoming even more noticeable as the plant drops its leaves for the winter.  I have heard it said that purple is the least attractive colour to birds and therefore these berries are the last to be eaten.  Of course they may just not taste very nice.  Either way, the upshot of this ensures we get the longest display possible.  We grow ours in our winter border which is just thinking about springing into action.


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