Beautyberry (Callicarpa) is a genus of shrubs and small trees in the family Verbenaceae; between 40-150 species are accepted by different botanists. They are native to east and southeast Asia (where the majority of the species occur), Australia, southeast North America and Central America.
The temperate species are deciduous, the tropical species evergreen. The leaves are simple, opposite, and 5–25 cm long. The flowers are in clusters, white to pinkish. The fruit is a berry, 2–5 mm diameter and pink to red-purple with a highly distinctive metallic lustre, are very conspicuous in clusters on the bare branches after the leaves fall. The berries last well into the winter or dry season and are an important survival food for birds and other animals, though they will not eat them until other sources are depleted. The berries are highly astringent but are made into wine and jelly. Callicarpa species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Endoclita malabaricus and Endoclita undulifer.
American Beautyberry Callicarpa americana is native to the southeastern United States. It can typically reach 1 to 2 meters in height. A jelly can be made from its ripe berries.
Bodinier's Beautyberry Callicarpa bodinieri, native to west-central China (Sichuan, Hubei, Shaanxi), is more cold-tolerant than C. americana, and is the species most widely cultivated in northwestern Europe. It can reach 3 meters tall.
Japanese Beautyberry Callicarpa japonica, native to Japan, is also cultivated in gardens. It is called Murasakishikibu in Japanese, in honor of Murasaki Shikibu.
The discovery and use of callicarpenal has been patented by the United States Department of Agriculture Agriculture Research Service as a mosquito repellent. Four chemicals have been isolated that appear to be the active ingredients; borneol, callicarpenal, intermedeol, and spathulenol.
American beautyberry or Callicarpa americana has been found to be a natural insect repellent. It has been found to be repellent to mosquitoes, which can carry yellow fever and malaria, as well as the tick, which carries Lyme disease.
It has also been used to produce wine.
^ "Angiosperm Phylogeny Website - Lamiales". Missouri Botanical Garden.
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License