CALLICARPA BODINIERI var. giraldii 'Profusion'

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' with its attractive purple berries
'Bodinier's beautyberry'



Commonly known as 'Bodinier's beautyberry' or just plain 'beautyberry', Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' is for most of the year a surprisingly uninteresting specimen. At least it is in my opinion, until of course the appearance of its ornamental berries in late autumn.

And herein lies the problem, while Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' has gorgeous autumn effect should you plant in in a prime location to make the most of its almost unique ornamental value or should you try and grow it as a container specimen so that it can be effective hidden from view for the majority of the year and then moved to 'front and centre' for the key, precious few weeks? That being said, with mature specimens able to reach an overall height of 3 metres and with a width of 2.5 metres, growing as suitably decent example as an easily movable pot plant is a lot easier said than done! So the positioning of 'Bodinier's beautyberry' is mostly going to be some compromise but consider planting it near to a prime location behind as few herbaceous plants known to lose their leaves before the show starts. Get it right and you can enjoy the almost unique delight that these jewel-like berries offer every season going forward, arguably only bettered by Pollia condensata, the marble berry. Unfortunately the marble berry is neither hardy or in general cultivation, whereas Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion is both.

The original species is a native to Western and Central China and named in honour of Émile-Marie Bodinier (1842 - 1901), a French missionary and botanist who collected plants in China - although not this one. The genus name is derived from the Greek meaning 'beautiful fruit'. It was introduced to the Victorian gardening establishment in around 1845, followed later by the Giraldii cultivar which entered production in England 1900 and receiving the First Class certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1924. 'Profusion' was a further selection from the Giraldii cultivar. It is now the most attractive and widely cultivated of all species and cultivars within the genus Callicarpa.

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' is a deciduous cultivar with a rounded habit. The leaves are narrowly elliptic, toothed and have a downy bloom which is more prominent when young. The new foliage emerges bronze-purple in spring, turning to a dark green over the summer before finally turning to golden-purple prior to leaf drop in the autumn.

Small purple blooms appear from June-August in dense sprays no more than 3-4 cm wide on the new wood however these are largely overlooked. Once pollinated these are followed by eye-catching, glossy violet-purple bead-like fruits which appear in clusters of 30-40 individuals. These ripen in September, although the colour steadily improved through October and into early November. be aware than when planted in isolation Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' will tend to fruit poorly, so for best berry affect plant in loose groups or for best results in a mass display.

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1984, along with the First Class certificate in 1921.

Main image credit - Kurt Stüber: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported