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Red Mulberry

Red Mulberry tree

Morus rubra

(Order, Urticales. Family, Moraceae)


Diagnosis:   A tree that is 13 to 30 feet high with a trunk diameter of 8-30 cm.  The branches form a broad round top crown.  The leaves are alternate and simple about 18-30 cm long.  They are ovate to semiobicular with three to five lobes.  They are coarsely serrated with dark green color on top and pale on the bottom surface.  Bottom surface of the leaf is hairy (distinguishing it from Morus alba which has a smooth bottom surface).  The petioles are two to five centimeters long that secrete a milky juice when cut.  The fruit are berry like that are bright red at first and blacken as they ripen.  The fruit are edible.  The wood is course grained and very durable.  The flowers occur in May with leaves.  The staminate are in spikes that are two and one-half to five centimeters long.  The pistillate are in spikes two and one-half centimeters long.

Notes: Hybridizes with Morus alba, the White Mulberry, which was introduced from Asia. The White Mulberry is also found in Kansas.

Conservation status: Not threatened

Native status: Native to the United States

Flowering Period: Flowers in April or May

Habitat: This tree prefers to live near water, but not exclusively. They are numerous near the Arkansas Rivers in Wichita.  Like many plants, they prefer rich soil.



Laun, H. Charles. The Natural History Guide. Alton Illinois: Alsace, 1967.

Mohler,J.C. Trees in Kansas. Topeka Kansas: Kansas Board of Agriculture, 1928.

Zulver,Selma. Trees Natural Guides. New York New York,1963.

A Poem:  


Worth the climb

My son would say,

You are worth the climb.

Your berries are so sweet

Hard to keep your hands neat.

The red are sour

Black will be the hour,

When they are picked

So do not be tricked,

Pie, jelly, or just eat as a treat

Mulberry can’t be beat.

So when you near the river,

Remember the red will make you quiver,

With a sour blast


So let time slip past

The black are right

So take a bite!

                                       -- By Scott Ross


All images by Scott Ross

Submitted by Scott Ross, July 2012.

Wichita State University
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