by David Sargert
During a recent conversation with long-time customer Connie
Graves we explored the medicinal qualities of a number of plants
and then got onto the subject of mosquito control.
Connie shared some fascinating findings from recently completed
research at the University of Mississippi. It seems the folks in rural
Miss. have known for generations that American beautyberry
(Callicarpa Americana) works as an effective mosquito repellent.
We love this kind of thing and being good scientists we set up a
clinical study at the nursery which included a full laboratory fund-
ed by millions of dollars of grants from the U.S. government to
save the population of the USA from the imminent zika virus pan-
demic while also providing jobs for all of Texas. . . just kidding!
I asked our resident expert Jerry Hinton to score me some beauty-
berry leaves from his backyard. I crushed a few leaves in my hands,
rubbed them on my legs, arms and neck and proceeded into our way-
overgrown vegetable garden.
This is generally a dreaded exercise as the chiggers have made a
home there along with their annoying buddies the mosquitoes and
other mouths with wings.
I hate those things and my ankles have itched for the rest of the
day from previous excursions there. 'Cowboy up' I told myself as
I walked toward the bramble: 'This is for science!' I worked in the
grass and weeds for over an hour. Not one bite! Not ONE!
The plant is also an ornamental gem with deep green leaves and
violet/magenta clusters of berries on the stems. (Jerry has a secret
stash of a rare white berry variety he offers to special customers:
code word 'google.')
It grows to 7' x 7' and requires well drained soil. It also makes a
good jelly. (More on that in the future.) Unfortunately it is NOT
a mammal repellent and all sorts of furry critters love it; adjust
accordingly. Science + Food + Aesthetics = Must Have! Happy