Berries and more berries are borne on our native plants now and especially noticeable are wild coffee, snowberry and beautyberry. These shrubs are a boon for wildlife, and birds, and for a native garden they’re very nearly a must.
Snowberry, Chiococca alba, is a hammock native that likes some high shade. It is a sprawling shrub that bears yellow, bell-shaped flowers in the summer and white berries in the fall. The Institute for Regional Conservation cautions that it can be somewhat aggressive, so you may want to control it with pruning. It’s in the coffee family. The IRC considers the snowberry from the pine rockland to be a separate species, Chiococca parviflora, although the world checklist of names recognized by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, lists parviflora is a synonym for alba.
Wild coffee, Psychotria nervosa, is loaded now with beautiful, deep red fruit. The
fruit are smaller than those of snowberry and not held on long strands like beads as are those of snowberry. Coffee likes some shade, as it too is a coastal hammock plant. Its lovely quilted leaves make it attractive year-round. Coffee will self-seed, popping up here and there in your yard.
American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, is laden with grape-colored fruit that form in the axils of leaves. The flowers that precede them are pink.
Beautyberry develops long arching branches that bend with the weight of their fruit. They can take sun or light shade, and mostly inhabit the edges of hammocks or pinelands. This shrub won’t need any supplemental water once it is established, although the two preceding shrubs do best with some moisture in the soil. Mulching to a depth of three or four inches is ideal for them.You can prune beautyberry quite heavily in late winter (February).