Red mulberry (Morus rubra) is a medium deciduous tree with a dense, rounded crown. Leaves are alternate and have various shapes on the same tree including unlobed (heart-shaped), 2-lobed (roughly thumb-shaped), and 3-lobed. All leaves are rough and sand papery above with coarse teeth. Twigs are brownish. Bark of young trunks are pale orange-brown with small lenticels (raised pores). Mature bark is tinged orange-red with broad scaly ridges. Fruits are red-black, long stalked, and resemble elongated blackberries. Common in fertile moist soils and occasionally cultivated for fruit. The largest red mulberry trees are found in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys. Introduced to horticulture in 1929.
Common name: American Mulberry, Purple Mulberry
Scientific Name (family and order): Morus rubra (Moraceae, Rosales)
Species Origin: Eastern USA
New Jersey Status: USDA Native
Habit: 30 -50’ tall x 35 – 40’ wide. Rounded shape, like apple tree lacking dense twigginess of M. alba – a more open tree.
Habitat: Zone 4 -8.
Trunk/Stem: Branches stout, brown, thinly pubescent. Bark on trunk is gray-brown, ridged and furrowed with flattened ridges.
Leaves: Deciduous, simple, alternate. Leaves are large, 5 ½” dark green with coarse marginal teeth; adaxial surface rough, sandpapery; abaxial surface pubescent. Leaves vary from unlobed to 2 – 3 lobed. Autumn leaves bright yellow.
Flowers: Monoecious. Female catkins short; male catkins longer with prominent pink-anthered stamens
Fruits and seeds: Fruit a multiple of red-black berries that are sweet and juicy.