Today’s entry was composed by Bryant. He writes:
The first photograph illustrates a remarkable pattern that occurs as the inflorescence of Callicarpa pilosissima develops, while the second photo shows that the pattern is best visible in the early stages of floral development. Its peculiar inflorescence has gained the species some popularity as an ornamental outside of its native range of Taiwan. In the wild, this shrub grows in mixed montane forests at elevations ranging from 500-1500m.
Taxa in the genus Callicarpa are often referred to as beautyberries, and given its native range, this species is sometimes called Taiwan beautyberry. For an excellent summary of the ethnobotanical uses of the genus, see: Jones, WP and AD Kinghorn. 2008. Biologically Active Natural Products of the Genus Callicarpa. Curr Bioact Compd.. 4(1):15-32. doi:10.2174/157340708784533393. Callicarpa pilosissima is noted as having some small cytotoxic effect against leukemia in mice. Other members of the genus seem better-studied and have additional demonstrated uses, including as insect repellents. Research into the chemical constituents of species of this group is ongoing.
Callicarpa pilosissima was formerly considered a member of the Verbenaceae, but is now placed under the Lamiaceae (or mint family). The Lamiaceae are closely related to the Verbenaceae and many of their species share common aspects, such as quadrangular stems and aromatic leaves. The Lamiaceae is a relatively large plant family of roughly 250 genera and well over 7,000 species.