red mulberry
Morus rubra L.
  • LEAVES: deciduous, alternate, simple; blades of three shapes: unlobed, mitten-shaped, and 3 (-5) lobed; unlobed leaves generally ovate in outline; blade tips acute to acuminate, margins serrate, bases symmetrically cordate or truncate; upper leaf surface usually somewhat scabrous
  • FLOWER: unisexual, male and female flowers born in separate catkins on the same plant (monoecious) or on different plants (dioecious); catkins of both sexes ca. 1-1.5” long, the male loosely flowered, elongate-cylindric, pendent, female catkins compactly flowered, oblong, not pendent; flowering in early spring as new leaves emerge
  • FRUIT: an achene surrounded by the fruiting calyx, which has become succulent and juicy, maturing dark red or purplish-red; the fruiting female catkin containing many such achenes is collectively referred to as a “mulberry”, attaining a length of about 2”
  • TWIGS: slender, zigzagging, surface gray-brown, smooth with scattered lenticels, leaf scars concave, oval to half-moon shaped; sap milky
  • BARK: smooth gray-brown when young; with long, thin scales when older
  • FORM: medium-sized tree to ca. 60-70’ tall; often seen only as a shrub to small tree
  • HABITAT: mesic forests with relatively fertile soils
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Upland (FACU): Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: eastern US [USGS Range Map]
  • USES: durable heartwood, used locally for fence posts and cooperage; ornamental
  • WILDLIFE: fruit is eaten by songbirds, opossums, raccoons and squirrels; frequently browsed by whitetail deer, which will also eat leaves fallen on the ground, which are reportedly high in calcium
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. small deciduous tree of mesic rich-soil forests
    2. leaves of three shapes; upper blade surfaces scabrous
    3. leaf bases symmetrically cordate or truncate
    4. milky sap