American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a shrub native to the Southeastern US, various Caribbean islands, and the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Lush green foliage is followed by pink flowers and gorgeous lavender-purple berries which last well into the winter, until birds and other wildlife have picked them clean. The pictured plant has been in a bed in our landscaping for several years now. Last fall an early and severe freeze killed it to the ground. But this spring, slowly but surely, it leafed back out and is now as lush as ever and blooming again.
We had other shrubs—non-natives–that died back from the same freeze and never re-sprouted. The point is that plants native to your area are there for a reason. Native species have evolved over millennia to the conditions in that area. This early freeze was not American beautyberry’s first rodeo with an occasional early, or late, hard freeze. Freezes farther north from our location are too often and too severe, so Beautyberry is not native there.
When you use native plants, you are hedging your bets with the tried and true. Go wild!
Check out the USDA Plant database website (plants.usda.gov) for range maps and other information on a particular species or genus. You can find out exactly where a native plant is found in nature by zooming-in on the map to switch from a North American map with state ranges down to state maps which highlight at the county level. Click this link to see an example using American beautyberry. The database and range maps also include many non-native species used as landscape plants.
Native plants are better adapted to bounce back from unusual weather events–and “unusual” weather appears to be the new normal.