Red Mulberry, Morus rubra

Red Mulberry

Morus rubra

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Zones: 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Medium
Color: Green
Fragrance: No
Height: 35-50 feet
Spacing: 35-40 feet


Red Mulberry, Morus rubra, is a medium sized, upright spreading to rounded, deciduous tree that typically grows to 35-50’ tall. It is native to rich woods, bottomlands and wood. It typically occurs in woodlands, rocky places, pastures, fields and along roads throughout the state. It is noted for its often lobed leaves, milky sap, reddish-brown bark and edible fruits. Trees are monoecious or dioecious. Ovate to oblong-ovate, toothed, usually dark green leaves (to 5” long) have heart-shaped bases. Leaves can be quite variable, however, ranging from un-lobed to deeply lobed and from rough-textured to glabrous on the upper surfaces. Lobed leaves are more frequently found on new shoots and un-lobed leaves are more frequently found in tree crowns. Leaves turn yellow in fall.

Unisexual greenish flowers in small catkin-like spikes 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 flowers are cross-pollinated by the wind. Fruits are sweet and juicy and may be eaten off the tree.

Best grown in rich, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prune in late fall or winter to avoid bleeding. Easily grown from seed or cuttings. May self-seed somewhat prolifically.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Female trees are often considered undesirable in urban areas because the fruit is messy and stains pavements, automobiles and areas around the home.
  Fruits are also used for jellies, jams and wines.
  Fruits are not commercially sold because they have very short “shelf lives” and pack/ship very poorly.
  Fruits are also very attractive to birds.
  Growth and development are relatively fast and individual trees can bear fruit in as little as 10 years and they may live as long as 125 years.
  The seeds can be planted outdoors during autumn, or they can be subjected to cool moist stratification for 30-90 days and planted during the spring.
Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries