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Purple Beads and Angel Trumpets

 

Kathy
Henderson
Columnist

  Angel Trumpet plants grow all summer into shrubs that suddenly break into bright yellow, white or pink flowers that certainly express their name. These long beautiful flowers look like trumpets and last only a couple of days. However, the plant continues to produce buds and more trumpets as the days shorten towards Autumn. I am always amazed at this plant.

The purple beads (berries) that you see growing along the stems of a native shrub in the woodland and fields around belong to Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americana).                          Photo by Seth Jackson

 Angel Trumpets are actually Brugsmansia. Brugsmansia belongs to the deadly nightshade group which includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, tobacco and many weeds that torment our pastures and gardens. These plants are poisonous, very poisonous. While the fruit and certain stems (potatoes) are not poisonous, other parts are very toxic.

 Watch toddlers and “grazers” around them. This is a good warning to parents. Teach your children to always bring fruit, leaves or berries to you before eating. I don’t think they would find these leaves tasty or even attractive, but you never know about children, so warn them often.

   Most Angel Trumpets will survive our winters if you will cover the root system with heavy mulch during the winter. The yellow, pink and white ones seem to be quite hardy, but the variegated-leafed one is not. I have had the double white one to return, but I have also had it to perish in the winter. Since they are nightshade plants, they do love fertilizer in the spring and summer and good drainage in the root zone throughout the year.

   To be sure that you will have a plant next year, cut some stems about 2 feet long before frost and place them either in a pot of good potting soil or in water (which must be changed throughout the winter months) and keep them in an area which does not freeze. These will form roots and be ready to plant outside in April. They form roots very easily.

    The purple beads (berries) that you see growing along the stems of a native shrub in the woodland and fields around belong to Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americana). I grew up admiring this wonderful shrub and they still grow in the same area - whew, that is a survivor. I have some that have come up in my borders (thanks to the birds) that are in the sun. These have the thickest growth of berries.

    While the berries are reportedly not poisonous, I would discourage children from tasting them. There are reports of making jelly from them.

    I prefer to enjoy their beauty as a landscape shrub in sun or shade and about any kind of soil. The leaves of this deciduous shrub turn yellow in the fall and these, combined with the purple berries, make it an outstanding landscape specimen. If you do not have any of these plants in your garden, pick some berries and scatter them in your landscape. They will come up in the spring.

 Angel Trumpets and Beauty Berries are just a few of the glorious plants of late summer and early fall.

 

 

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