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.
Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Beautyberry.
Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9, Zone 10
Location at Monticello:
September 6, 2001 to December 31, 2001July 23, 2002 to August 16, 2002July 17, 2003 to August 22, 2003July 29, 2004 to August 27, 2004July 8, 2005 to November 22, 2005July 11, 2006 to December 1, 2006June 25, 2007 to August 16, 2007July 10, 2009 to November 15, 2009June 22, 2012 to November 22, 2012July 30, 2014 to September 12, 2014August 19, 2016 to September 12, 2016June 30, 2017 to November 3, 2017