November. It's lumped in the category of flowering weeds here in Florida
(albeit a gorgeous shrub when the berries are in abundance) because birds &
wildlife drop the seeds after feasting, and the plants tend to spring up all over the garden. Some may know this plant as "Spanish mulberry" or "Bermuda
mulberry", but there's no denying it's a beautiful plant!
Supposedly the berries have minor amounts of vitamins & carbohydrates, and my cardinals & bluejays I'm sure would attest to their yumminess. On a recent walk around my neighborhood, I even caught a squirrel who had the most purple lips & hands from gorging himself silly with the plump fruits. I would be a little hesitant though in eating too much as there are anecdotal reports of upset
stomach after eating them, and I would definitely wait until they're fully mature (you can't miss the gorgeous magenta color) before sampling. If you're into canning your produce, you can try making jelly out of these beauts, and use as a topping for cheesecake, pancakes or biscuits. And if you feel particularly
adventurous, combine with dark Concorde grapes to make a delightful wine!
Recent studies on the leaves of the American Beautyberry have isolated several molecules that have mosquito repellant properties (like DEET), but since word is still out on toxic effects on humans, it might be wiser to rub the crushed leaves on your clothes instead of your skin. Some resources also list the leaves as beneficial in treating dropsy, using the roots to make a tea for stomachache, fever, dysentery & rheumatic muscle aches, and the inner bark to treat cuts, wounds & rashes (soak then pulverize). And there you have it: an American beauty in ways more than one.
Until next time, happy Weed'n! happy eating!
Audrey Steele, L.Ac
Licensed Acupuncturist (FL)