Morus rubra

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: red mulberry 
Type: Tree
Family: Moraceae
Native Range: Eastern United States, extreme southeastern Canada
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 35.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 35.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Drought, Air Pollution


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

Noteworthy Characteristics

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. In Missouri, it typically occurs in woodlands, rocky places, pastures, fields and along roads throughout the state (Steyermark). 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 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. 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. Fruits are sweet and juicy and may be eaten off the tree. 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.

Genus name comes from the Latin name.

Specific epithet means red in reference to the fruit color.


No serious insect or disease problems. Borers may be a problem particular 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.


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.