US National Arboretum


Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit

Callicarpa dichomata 'Duet'
New Variegated Beautyberry Released from the Arboretum

photo of Callicarpa Duet foliage and berries

If you’re looking for something to brighten up your garden, we may have just the plant for you.  A variegated beautyberry, ‘Duet’, was just released by the U.S. National Arboretum.  This sport of Callicarpa dichotoma var. albafructus has medium green leaves with distinct yellow margins.  Small white fruit appear in late summer and persist through mid-autumn.  ‘Duet’ is a small, rounded shrub that is well suited to a variety of landscape uses.  It is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8 and performs best in light shade.

‘Duet’ beautyberry was discovered by two researchers working at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tenn.  Impressed by the attractive foliage and stability of the variegation pattern, these researchers felt the plant would have a place in industry but did not have a mechanism in place for evaluation and cultivar release.  They partnered with Dr. Sandra Reed, a plant breeder at the Arboretum’s Floral and Nursery Plant Research Unit worksite in McMinnville, Tenn.  Dr. Reed propagated the plant and distributed it to cooperators throughout the U.S.  Based on input from those cooperators, the Arboretum, in cooperation with Tennessee Technological University, released the cultivar in November 2006.   It is currently being propagated by growers and is expected to be available at the retail level in 2008.  Check out our revised Callicarpa 'Duet' Fact Sheet [PDF file].

More Detailed Information:
The U.S.D.A., A.R.S., U.S. National Arboretum, in cooperation with Tennessee Technological University, announces the release of 'Duet' (NA 72235), a new Callicarpa dichotoma cultivar introduced by the nursery crop breeding program at the McMinnville, Tennessee worksite of the U.S. National Arboretum. This new release was selected at Tennessee Technological University by Dr. Gary Bachman and Mr. Edgar Davis, and tested and released by Dr. Sandra Reed of the U.S. National Arboretum. It is well suited to a variety of landscape uses, including as a background planting in the shrub border, a specimen plant, and deciduous hedge or screen, or mass planted in larger areas.

photo of Callicarpa Duet bush

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Duet' beautyberry was selected for its variegated foliage. Leaves are medium green with distinct yellow margins. It is the first stable variegated plant found in the genus. Like other Callicarpa, its disease and insect tolerant foliage make it an ideal plant for a low maintenance landscape. It is a small, rounded shrub that has grown 1.0 meters high and 1.0 meters wide in 4 years in McMinnville, Tenn. It produces clusters of small white fruit in late summer.

'Duet' is a variegated sport of Callicarpa dichotoma var. albafructus that was discovered in 2000. It is hardy in USDA zones 5-8, and performs best in light shade. Plants are readily propagated in the nursery from softwood cuttings using 4000 ppm KIBA, with rooting occurring within four weeks. 'Duet' has been evaluated by cooperators in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The cultivar has not shown unusual features that would indicate potential invasiveness.

Plants were distributed to cooperating nurseries for evaluating in 2003, and for stock increase in 2005. The U.S. National Arboretum does not have stock plants of 'Duet' available for general distribution, but can provide a limited number of rooted cuttings to interested propagating nurseries. The U.S. National Arboretum can also provide a list of propagating nurseries offering these plants for sale. Requests for this list should be addressed to: Dr. Sandra Reed, U.S. National Arboretum, 472 Cadillac Lane, McMinnville, TN 37110, or

The name 'Duet' will be registered with the International Registration Authority for unassigned woody ornamentals in accordance with the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, 1995. Genetic material of this release will be deposited in the National Plant Germplasm System where it will be available for research purposes, including development and commercialization of new cultivars. It is requested that appropriate recognition if this germplasm contributes to the development of a new breeding line or cultivar.

The U.S. National Arboretum is the leading institution in the United States conducting long-term hybridization, testing and evaluation of trees and shrubs. Over 650 named cultivars have been released by the Arboretum to the ornamental nursery and floral industries.

(Photos: Top left, 'Duet' foliage and fruit; bottom right, 'Duet' plant form)

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Last Updated   August 12, 2008 4:04 PM

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