Beauty Berry

Yesterday I noticed a stand of Beauty Berry bushes growing in an area that I pass almost daily, but tend to ignore. It’s a visual barrier corner with an old and damaged cedar surrounded by polk weed stand and stack of fallen and felled branches, bordered by a holly hedge. The cedar and polk weed were intentionally left alone to provide shade and wind barrier for young fuzzy kiwis and then my raspberries.

I’d import a pic from online, but haven’t seen any that do the plants justice in bringing out the almost metallic magenta glow of the berries. Most people are probably familiar with the American Beauty berry. If not, there are many images available with a search.

I tasted just one when I found them because I’d read descriptions calling them astringent. Didn’t look forward to having my mouth pucker like when tasting an unripe persimmon! Then I tried several more. There was nothing at all that I’d describe as astringent. What I perceived was a very delicate taste that I’d describe as very much like the scent of roses with a light touch of gin. Since then I’ve read other descriptions that compare it to combinations of different fruits and spices, including combinations of cherries and apricots. Maybe it has a taste that varies with individual growing conditions or perception. I found the taste interesting and pleasant, and not quite like anything else I’ve tasted.

I picked about a quart of berries this noon, but left plenty for wildlife. I didn’t trust anyone to help with the picking since they are surrounded by polk weed with berries. That’s not something I want accidentally mixed in with edibles. Those that I picked are destined to become either a jelly or the base of a jelly with additional notes added. It depends on what others here think of the single fruit jelly.

I was delighted to find these. I’ve had them growing on the grounds a few times before, and enjoyed them simply from their striking looks and nectar production. Each time someone has removed them mistaking the bushes for weeds. It’s growing well as an understory plant and appears to have thrived despite an excessively hot summer, lack of water, and competition from other plants. It also shows zero pest damage to the leaves and bushes.

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Amusing observation. If you pick the berries and then spend time working on other outdoor tasks for a period of time, the palm of the hand used to remove the berries will become rust colored. :flushed:

Fortunately, this scrubs off rather easily.

Didn’t know they were edible, I have one out back that looks awesome this time of year.

They are very pretty now, definitely earning their keep in my yard right now. Everything I’ve read about eating them basically seems to agree that they’re ok for jelly, so I haven’t bothered. I’m an eat out of hand kind of guy, and these things are so tiny there hardly seems to be a point. Still, part of me likes knowing that I could eat my ornamentals if I really wanted to.

Do you have an efficient way to pick them?

Alright, you inspired me to try some. The whole berry bunch came off easily, so I guess harvesting for jelly wouldn’t be a problem. I agree with your assessment of the taste: mild, reminiscent of roses, a hint of that deet-smell that you get from rubbing the leaves. Nice overall.

The trouble is that now my mouth is full of grit from the tiny seeds. I may leave this one to the birds.

I wouldn’t quite describe what I experienced as “gritty”, but pretty close. Sort of a cross between gritty and mealy. I did not find the texture appealing. That was the one thing that kept me from just eating them out of hand.