While Jefferson resided in Paris during the 1780s, his close friend Madame de Tessé requested that he arrange for plants to be sent for her estate at Chaville. Jefferson, in turn, wrote his friend John Bannister, Jr., for this plant.1 Beautyberry was also on a list of "shrubs not exceeding 10 f[eet] in height" for Monticello in 1771.2
This shrub is native from southwestern Maryland to North Carolina, Arkansas, and south to Mexico. Joan Dutton, in her book about plants of Colonial Williamsburg, suggests that the name "French Mulberry" comes from an association with the French in the West Indies.3 This plant is a deciduous, North American shrub with small, lavender-pink blossoms in spring, then are followed by clusters of showy, bright violet purple berries in the fall, which persist throughout the winter.
- Leighton, Ann. American Gardens in the Eighteenth Century. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1986
- McMahon, Bernard. The American Gardener's Calendar. Philadelphia: B. Graves, 1806. See p. 355.
- Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants
- University of Texas at Austin. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. "Callicarpa Americana L."
2. Betts, Garden Book, 23. Manuscript and transcription at Massachusetts Historical Society.
3. Joan Parry Dutton, Plants of Colonial Williamsburg (Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg, 1979), 64.