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Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

Red Mulberry Red Mulberry is a relatively small tree (30-80 ft tall) that can be found along several Arboretum trails — Old Kerr Hollow Road, the Cemetery Ridge Trail, and the Backwoods Trail. A large Red Mulberry tree is present just below the Superintendent’s House along the Valley Road. Red Mulberry is found throughout the Eastern U.S., but it is disappearing in parts of New England and Michigan, possibly due to bacterial disease. It typically occurs as scattered individuals in a variety of moist forest habitats and along fence rows and roads.

The alternate, serrate leaves are ovate to orbicular in shape and vary from being highly dissected and lobed to non-lobed — our trees tend to have few if any lobes. Red Mulberry is commonly dioecious (i.e., with separate male and female trees), but can be monecious with both male and female flowers on the same tree (see photo below).

Red Mulberry Flowers Red Mulberry Fruit In late May and June you can find Red Mulberry fruits ripening. When mature, the black fruits, resembling elongated blackberries, are favorite foods for many birds and small mammals such as squirrels, opossums, and raccoons. The juicy aggregate fruits have been used for jams, pies, and wines. The decay-resistant wood is used for fence posts, furniture, caskets, and farm implements. Native Americans used the bark to make fibrous cloth. They also used the plant to treat dysentery and as a laxative or purgative. Unripe fruits and the milky sap are poisonous. Pollen from Red Mulberry is a severe allergen.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu