You’ve probably seen these things growing around:
That’s the American Beautyberry, also known as Callicarpa americana. For some reason, everyone thinks they’re poisonous but eating beautyberries is a Southern tradition. Perhaps it’s the brilliant color of the berries or the pungent smell of the leaves. Fortunately for us, however, they are edible. They’re not the best-tasting thing in the world, being mealy and sometimes slightly reminiscent of turpentine… but they’re safe as milk. And apparently, they make a good jelly.
(Note to self: make some beautyberry jelly)
I’ve allowed beautyberries to grow all around my yard and I’ve also deliberately planted them around my chicken run, since I’ve noticed the chickens love them. When I remember, I grab clusters off the bushes and scatter them for my hens. Free food!
For some reason, my kids also love beautyberries. They do a game they call “Snacky’s Diner,” wherein they gather up beautyberries in jars, then serve them up as if it was a restaurant.
Occasionally, they’ll also yell across the yard things like “Snacky’s Diner is OOOOOPEN! COME ON IN!!!”
You might plant these babies and try the same thing when you have company over.
I have no idea where they came up with that name… or this game. But they find it amusing enough that they play it every Fall when the berries ripen.
For more information on growing survival plants, get my book Florida Survival Gardening.