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Morus rubra

Phonetic Spelling
MOR-us ROO-brah
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Morus rubra, or Red Mulberry, is a deciduous tree that may grow to 30 feet with a short trunk about 2 feet in diameter and a dense, spreading crown. The tree grows throughout North Carolina, usually in the rich, red soils of lower and middle parts of the state, but it is found in all regions. There are no other native species of mulberry in the state.

The leaves are alternate, thin, somewhat heart-shaped, and rough with a toothed margin and up to 3 lobes. The bark is gray-brown with long, scaly ridges. In spring, small, pale green male and female slim, cylindrical flowers mature. The small tree produces a 1 to 1.25 inch long cluster of drupes that mature in summer. Fruit resembles a blackberry and, if eaten when unripe, are poisonous as is the milky white sap that all parts of the tree produces. Fruits that are eaten when ripe are harmless.

The Red mulberry is best grown in rich, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It will be at its best in full sun. Prune in late fall or winter to avoid bleeding. It is easily grown from seed or cuttings and may also self-seed somewhat prolifically. It does not do well in poor soil.

The fruits are relished by birds but dropped fruit can cause maintenance issues such as staining concrete walkways, patios, and cars, so be aware of where the canopy will extend when choosing the location to plant one of these trees.  These trees can become weedy.  Herbicides are not effective, the best management is to hand pull seedlings when young.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Borers may be a problem with this plant, particularly in the South. Whiteflies mass on some trees. Bacterial blight may kill foliage/branches. Coral spot cankers may cause twig dieback. Bacterial leaf scorch, powdery mildew, root rot, and witches broom may also occur. Watch for scale, mites, and mealybugs. Weedy self-seeding and messy fruit are concerns. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Collier', 'Hicks Everbearing', 'Illinois Everbearing', 'Silk Hope', 'Townsend', 'Travis'
Tags:
#poisonous#weed#wildlife plant#showy#weedy#playground#small mammals#food source#messy#low flammability#NC native#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#naturalizes#pollinator plant#edible garden#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#food source nectar#fruits#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Collier', 'Hicks Everbearing', 'Illinois Everbearing', 'Silk Hope', 'Townsend', 'Travis'
Tags:
#poisonous#weed#wildlife plant#showy#weedy#playground#small mammals#food source#messy#low flammability#NC native#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#naturalizes#pollinator plant#edible garden#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#food source nectar#fruits#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Morus
    Species:
    rubra
    Family:
    Moraceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native Americans used the the plant medicinally as a worming agent, remedy for dysentery, laxative and emetic. Wood is light, soft, not strong, but durable. Often used for fencing and barrels. It is not considered an important, commercial tree.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South East Canada to Central and Eastern United States.
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV Canada: ON
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It is sometimes considered to be a host plant for Red Admiral butterfly. Its fruits are eaten by many birds, especially gray catbirds and northern mockingbirds, foxes, opossums, squirrels, and raccoons.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape. Heat and drought tolerant.
    Edibility:
    Ripe fruits are sweet, juicy, and can be eaten raw or made into pies, jellies, or jams. Also used in breads, muffins, and cakes.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 25 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 35 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Irregular
    Open
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Aggregate
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Sweet blackberry-like edible fruits that are reddish maturing to dark purple in color. The fruits are sweet and juicy and may be eaten off the tree. The fruits are also used for jellies, jams and wines. The fruits are not commercially sold because they have very short “shelf lives” and pack/ship very poorly. Fruit displays from May to June.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Unisexual greenish flowers in small, drooping, catkin-like spikes appear in early spring with male and female flowers usually appearing on separate trees (dioecious). Flowers bloom from April to May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Soft
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Lobed
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The Red mulberry has heart-shaped, thin, toothed, usually dark green leaves (3 to 5 inches long, 2 to 4 inches wide). The leaves can be quite variable, however, ranging from unlobed to deeply lobed and from rough-textured to glabrous on the upper surfaces. Lobed leaves are more frequently found on new shoots and unlobed leaves are more frequently found in tree crowns. The leaves turn yellow in fall. Underside of leaf has fine hairs and is soft to the touch. The leaves can be lobed or un-lobed with a very rough top side and hairy underside, typically do not have more than 4 lobes.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    Bark is grey-brown with a reddish tinge, scaly ridges that peel and curl.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Branch bark and twigs are brown, reddish brown, or gray and more smooth; the twigs have scattered white lenticels. Young shoots are light green and usually glabrous.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Fire
    Pollution
    Problems:
    Messy
    Poisonous to Humans
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Causes low toxicity if eaten. Hallucinations and stomach upset from unripe fruit and sap.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unidentified
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Sap/Juice