Abstract

Our objective was to determine whether provenance of origin and use of organic mulch influence survival, vegetative growth, and the number and size of fruit of Callicarpa americana L. (American beautyberry) planted north of its natural distribution in the central United States. Forty-eight plants were established in 2006 at each of four locations north of the natural distribution, two in Missouri and two in Iowa, and at one location within the natural distribution in Arkansas. Plants at each location (24 per provenance) were propagated from seeds collected from plants indigenous to southern Missouri and central Florida. Use of organic mulch increased percentage survival at two of four sites north of the natural distribution after Winter 2006–2007 and across all four northern locations after Winter 2007–2008. Survival of plants from the two origins was similar after Winter 2007–2008. Plants from Florida grew taller than plants from Missouri at the two planting locations in Missouri during the 2007 growing season. Development of fruit was poor in Iowa and was greatest on plants from Florida installed in southern Missouri and on plants from Missouri installed in central Missouri. Survival after Winter 2007–2008 was reduced to an average of 47% at the two sites in Iowa, and, across all sites, more plants from Missouri survived than plants from Florida. Plants within the natural distribution in Arkansas were 68% taller and had clusters of fruit 31% larger in late 2008 than plants at the closest site north of the natural distribution. We conclude American beautyberry can survive when planted in areas with winters colder than those where the species occurs naturally, and that plants from a northern provenance (Missouri) possess a greater capacity to survive than plants from Florida when planted north of the natural distribution in the Upper Midwest. Although the genetic potential for growth and displays of fruit is not manifest north of the species' natural limit, American beautyberry can be an attractive addition to landscapes in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones as cold as zone 5b, where plants from a northern origin that are mulched during winter should be used.

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Author notes

We thank Mervin Wallace for donation of plant material and Bruce Quint, Jyotsna Sharma, David Brauer, David Burner, Brad Fresenburg, and James Schrader for technical assistance.

2Professor and corresponding author. graves@iastate.edu.

3Research Assistant Professor, University of Missouri, Southwest Research Center, Mount Vernon, MO 65712.