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Red mulberry is an uncommon, fast-growing, medium-sized tree with blackberry-like edible fruits that are sweet and juicy and can be eaten off the tree - they are loved by humans, birds and other wildlife.


Red mulberry shares many similarities with the invasive white mulberry (Morus alba). Confusing the situation, red and white mulberry often hybridize, resulting in trees with intermediate characteristics. This link is a great resource for distinguishing the two trees:


Native habitats include rich woods; bottomlands; and sunny pastures, fields, and roadsides.  


Plant Characteristics:

Grows 35-50' tall, sometimes attaining heights up to 70'.


Requires at least 2 hours of sun.


Prefers moist, well-drained soil. Tolerant of clay, dry soils, and occasional flooding.


Yellow-green male and female flowers appear March-April and are normally on separate trees, though some trees are self-fertile.


Berries are red, turning black-purple when ripe.


Fall foliage is a lemony yellow.


Wildlife value:

Red Mulberry provides a source of food for various insects, birds, and mammals. Among insects, the leaves are eaten by 9 species of Lepidoptera in central Ohio, including the mourning cloak butterfly, and the moths rosy maple, Io and white-marked tussock. Other insects that feed on red mulberry are sycamore lace bug, comstock mealybug, and cottony maple scale. In addition, the larvae of several long-horned beetles are known to bore through the wood or bark of this tree, making it a great tree for woodpackers: American plum borer, mulberry borer, small mulberry borer, painted hickory borer, and mulberry bark borer. The early-maturing fruits of this tree are an important source of food to many kinds of birds, including the wood duck, catbird, eastern kingbird, great crested flycatcher, robin, and Baltimore oriole. In addition, eastern box turtles and mammals such as the opossum, raccoon, fox squirrel, and gray squirrel eat the fruits. Groundhogs sometimes eat the seedlings, while beavers eat the bark and wood of more mature trees when they occur near bodies of water.


Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:

Native Americans used the plant medicinally as a worming agent, a remedy for dysentery, a laxative,  and an emetic.


Native Americans ate the raw fruits and used them to prepare beverages, breads, cakes, dumplings, and preserves. They mixed the dried fruits with animal fat to make pemmican, a type of jerky.


Red mulberry fruits have long been used in Appalachia for making pies, jams, juice, and wine.

Mulberry, Red, Morus rubra

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