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Morus rubra 'Collier'

Common Name(s):
Collier red mulberry
Edible Plants, Native Plants, Trees

Morus rubra, commonly known as red mulberry, is a medium-sized, upright spreading to rounded, deciduous tree that typically grows to 35-50’ (less frequently to 80’) tall. It is native to rich woods, bottomlands and wood margins from Massachusetts, southern Ontario and Minnesota south to Florida and Texas.  It is noted for its often lobed leaves, milky sap, reddish-brown bark, and edible fruits. Trees are monoecious or dioecious.

Collier red mulberry is a native tree species and has both edible and ornamental features. It is a hybrid between red mulberry and white mulberry. It can live up to 125 years but the weedy invasive character is not appealing. It is more cold hardy than black mulberry.

Female trees are often considered undesirable in urban areas because the fruit is messy and stains pavements, automobiles and areas around the home. Stains may also be unwittingly brought indoors on the bottom of shoes. Do not plant this tree in the home landscape if you object to the mess typically caused by the fruit. Non-fruiting cultivars of the similar M. alba may be a better choice.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:    Spring          Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Summer

Wildlife Value:  This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  It is a possible host plant for the Red Admiral butterfly.  Its fruits are eaten by many birds, especially gray catbirds and northern mockingbirds, foxes, opossums, raccoons, and squirrels.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Borers may be a problem 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.

30-70 ft.
Collier Red Mulberry hs unisexual greenish flowers in small catkin-like spikes that appear in early spring with male and female flowers usually appearing on separate trees (dioecious). Trees with only male flowers obviously never bear fruit. Fertilized female flowers are followed by sweet blackberry-like edible fruits (to 1” long) that are reddish to dark purple in color. The fruits are sweet and juicy and may be eaten off the tree. 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. The small yellowish-green flower is not showy. Male flower and female flower can bloom on the same tree or different trees.
Collier Red Mulberry is best grown in rich, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It does best in full sun. Prune in late fall or winter to avoid bleeding. it is easily grown from seed or cuttings. It may self-seed somewhat prolifically. It can also adapt to various types of soils. It is salt tolerant.
Upright, oval shape
It produces numerous reddish-black fruit that looks like blackberry but slender with a size of 1 1/4''. It is sweet in flavor, similar to Illinois Everbearing but berry is more plump. It can cause purple splotches on driveways or cars. The fruit does not ripen at the same time. It is great for making jelly, wine and dessert.
40 ft.
Growth Rate:
The Collier Red Mulberry has ovate to oblong-ovate, toothed, usually dark green leaves (to 5” long) with heart-shaped bases. 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. Leaves turn yellow in fall. It features alternate broad simple green leaves with a notch at the base and a fine serrated margin. The upper surface is rough and under surface is full of soft hair.
deciduous, weedy, birds, edible, butterflies, songbirds, deer resistant, showy

NCCES plant id: 3018