Mulberry trees

catherinet(5 IN)July 21, 2004

Hi all,

Our property is 30 acres of trees/bushes and a big field we're trying to let grow up into trees. Right now, it is also filled with honeysuckle that will take years to get rid of. I've become more aware of invasives over the past year (our property is sooooo full of them!) and so I don't want to let things grow up, if they are going to just be a big headache later. Right now, there are a ton of mulberry trees/bushes growing up. They're nice, in that they're growing up alot in a field we're trying to let grow up in trees. Their berries attract wildlife....which can also bring other tree seeds. The birds love the berries and I wouldn't mind doing something with them myself.

I'm not sure what type of mulberry it is....

Are all mulberries invasive? I'm in zone 5. Thanks.

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invasive or just extemely opportunistic. #1- once they are there i would love to know how to get rid of them. it was suggested to me that girdling was the only way. i am not so sure if this would work since the sprout new from the root. #2- if you have racoons, and where there is mulberry there are racoons, they set out the mulberry seeds with "fertilizer." hence, more mulberry trees.
good luck.
don't get me wrong, i love mulberries, but enough is enough.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 6:45PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

we use girdling on black locust trees that propogates through roots (sounds similar to the mulberry) we have had some success with that. we girdle the mother tree and then once it dies we simulateously remove the secondary growth.

may i ask why you are letting this field grow into trees and bushes? in zone 5 in indiana would it historically have been a prairie or savannah?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 7:04PM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

More than likely your mulberries are white mulberry (Morus alba), an introduced tree that is very weedy. If you want mulberries I would recommend removing all the white ones and planting native mulberries.

Red mulberry (Morus rubra) is native, increasingly rare and non-invasive. It is more upright and sturdy than white mulberry but more slow growing and it doesn't get nearly as large. Just make sure you are getting a real red mulberry and not a hybrid. Mulberry cultivars like 'Illinois Everbearing'is not Morus rubra. Misidentification is all too common. If you ever see a real red mulberry the difference will be obvious.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 7:08PM
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Hi Cathy, you are dealing with too many exotic invasives :)
I think your mulberry trees bloomed this past spring a beautiful white and were already identified as the exotic invasive white mulberry (Morus alba) over in Trees forum but then maybe I am having an out of body experience and am confusing you with somebody else which is totally possible these days. By the way, they are much easier to kill than buckthorn as they don't sucker hardly at all. I believe I have 3 red mulberry bare roots left that I would be more than happy to send you. So how goes Invasive Acres II? What did you decide to do with your hops vine? All is peaceful here. We are gearing up to go for another 500 buckthorn this September and we ordered more Garlon 4. We'll burn the upper fruiting portion of the trees and drop the trunk down to the ground to create biomass. Oh fun!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 3:32AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks everyone,
Hi Laura! I think you're confusing me with someone else on the tree forum.......but then, I'm always confusing myself with someone else too! ;) The trunks on all these mulberries are very yellow.......does that confirm anything?
The birds sure love the berries........just like they love the honeysuckle berries!!
I'm afraid I don't have much energy any more, but fortunately, my husband he's been doing alot with the honeysuckle and the weed wrench. We just can never thank you enough for pointing us in the direction of that fantastic little machine!!
I haven't done anything with the hops vine yet. I really should get out there before they make fruit. I'm peddling as fast as I can with just taking care of the kids, chickens and garden......
At least, with the hops vine, I think I could just go out armed with pruners and make a little head-way.
Our lawn tractor broke, and we're also too broke to buy a new our out-of-control thistle is doing it's thing. At least we got that weed wrench before we got so broke!! :)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2004 at 10:30PM
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Oh nooooo, your tractor broke!!! I am so sorry to hear that. Ours is about 20 years old and we are dreading the day it goes.... so much so that my husband won't even let me hook up honeysuckle to it to yank out of the ground. In some ways I sort of wish it would just go but then I do not want to have to shell out money to buy a new one right about now.

Real simple question for you... did your mulberries flower this past spring?

Wrench On Cathy! Rip those buckthorns right out of their comfy little ground! Bye for now, Laura

    Bookmark   July 24, 2004 at 11:03PM
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too_many_pets(LI Z7)

Catherine...there's a guy over on the TREES forum-"Lucky P"-he seems to be a bit of a Mulberry afficionado. I bet if you describe your seedlings over there, or better yet, post a photo, he (or someone else) will be able to identify them for you once and for all. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2004 at 11:41PM
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Yes, Lucky is very good and has forgotten more than I will ever know however there is one quick way to tell if you have a white mulberry or a red mulberry...
The Red Mulberry has hairs on the lower surface of its leaves. These hairs are not present on the White Mulberry leaves.

Here is a link that might be useful: Red Mulberry

    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 12:30PM
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too_many_pets(LI Z7)

OK Laura..I'm going to go out there and see if I got the real deal from Forest Farm....

    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 1:27PM
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OK...Too_Many_Pets... what did you find? If it will make you feel any better, all of the ones I found and removed from my property were white mulberries. I have since replaced them with 30 red mulberry saplings that I purchased over the Internet from Cascade. I was very happy with the saplings I received from Cascade. Mulberries are critter magnets. I love them and gave a few to friends in hopes they'd plant them to attract birds and such. Regarding Forest Farm the mulberries you purchased from them, if they stated they sold you red mulberry, I suspect they did. They are pretty reputable and everything I have ever ordered from them was what they had represented it to have been. As far as what was already growing on your poperty, lycopus would be correct in having said it most probably is white mulberry.

And Cathy... your luck is right in line with mine so no need to share with me what type of mulberries you have as I think I know. If there is ever any doubt, it never seems to go your way or mine does it?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 9:34PM
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too_many_pets(LI Z7)

I gotta tell ya...I'm not feeling the little hairs!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2004 at 1:50PM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

It should feel somewhat fuzzy and the hairs should also be visible. Supposedly in some specimens they can be mostly confined to the viens. Still, they should be present. I wonder about the misidentification of this species because I have books that give completely innacurate decriptions for these two species, mainly because the unripe fruit colors are used to tell them apart. This is not a reliable characteristic.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2004 at 6:18PM
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There is also a considerable difference in the size of the catkins. One is larger than the other but I forgot which is which. If you hold them up next to each other it is a noticeable difference.

Too_Many_Pets is saying that she really has red mulberry which is what she wanted and what she ordered and paid for from Forest Farm. Red Mulberry doesn't have any little hairs while white mulberry does. Her order came from Forest Farm so I figured she would have received what she actually ordered.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2004 at 9:56PM
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30 acres? too much for hand labor.

maybe you can use the local vegetation's natural progression to your advantage. you could plan based on sub areas or zones.

i'd expect deciduous woodlands for your area (depending on soil and nearness of water table, of course) so trees would dominate after scrubby stuff.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2004 at 10:21PM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

"Red Mulberry doesn't have any little hairs while white mulberry does."

I am pretty sure you have it backwards. The leaves of Morus rubra should be evenly pubescent on the underside. Morus alba may have a few hairs but are glabrous for the most part. Do you have a source that says different?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2004 at 12:19AM
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Lemme look...

This is what I was told by a human being but we all know humans screw up.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2004 at 2:09AM
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Uh Oh... I typed wrong in the second post and did reverse them. Glad you caught that lycopus!

Er Uh Too_Many_Pets... looks like you may need to take a second look see at your trees if you went by my second post as opposed to my first. My first post was accurate of my notes from the "human being" in that I stated the following, "The Red Mulberry has hairs on the lower surface of its leaves. These hairs are not present on the White Mulberry leaves". Quick Internet search of about 5 minutes netted these links-
This second link is actually very good as both have hairs it is just the location.

I could go on, but the native red mulberry always has hairs and the white mulberry can have hairs, its where the hairs are located that are of consequence.

For what it is worth, all of the trees I removed were actually white mulberry as I had an arborist come out and confirm and additionally, several were purchased by me as white mulberry and stuck in the ground. My notes did state there were hairs on the underside of red mulberry so my first post was accurate of what was in my notes from the arborist. One problem was that I screwed up when I posted the second time and reversed the two. I should have written Red Mulberry DOES have little hairs while white mulberry doesn't instead of what I typed which contradicted my first post. Regardless, the white mulberry can have some hairs on the underside but mostly around the veins according to at least one of the links above.

Now to add to the confusion, I read a few of the links I just posted and it appears the Chinese white mulberry and the Native red mulberry freely hybridize. This should make identification really fun. Wonder where the hairs are located on the offspring??????????????

    Bookmark   July 30, 2004 at 2:43AM
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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)

I have a suggestion: all that wish to master the ID of mulberries, grow these two side by side and learn multiple ID differences between the two species in addition to relative hairiness (stems, buds, leaves, habit, flowering, fruiting, etc.). Once you've observed them both, at the same time and over time, together, you'll begin to be able to always tell them apart even from a distance. This works for many types of hard to differentiate species (like viburnums!).

In order to keep your Morus alba (bad!) populations down, just cut the plant to the ground every year as it flowers so no new fruit are produced. This always gives pleasure to those battling invasives anyway. Allow your Morus rubra to thrive and lord it over the butchered Morus alba. This also provides an outdoor laboratory to teach others the differences (macro and micro) so that the legions can then go out and do battle against the scourge.

There is a nature center next door to my office in Louisville where we've created just such a situation, so that children learning about plants and adults volunteering in invasives removal can see right away what they are, and nothing is left up to chance. The key: if you're not sure, leave it. One can come back later and remove it. You can't put it back once cut.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2004 at 8:22AM
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Actually, great advice. I removed a few plants by accident only to learn later they belonged. That was when I broke down and paid an arborist to come out and help. It started with my landscaper telling me authoritatively that my buckthorn were all wild cherries and needed to be left in the ground.

Speaking of Viburnums, I love those plants. I just bought Mohicans, Alfredo Compacts, and a few others to add to what I have over here. I tell them apart by placing a utilities locator flag with the speices and source clearly written on it. Then I take a photo of where I planted it and save it. I had no idea there were so many Viburnums out there but I have a particular fondness for them. My favorite being the Shasta. Oh Lordie that Viburnum is beautiful.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2004 at 10:55AM
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too_many_pets(LI Z7)

Well, I went out again, with the picture and info printed out that Laura had kindly linked to her post. The leaves definitely have a roughish texture, but I DEFINITELY do not SEE any hairs whatsoever. As far as I know, I don't have any White Mulberries to compare it to. I've just been obsessed with getting Red Mulberry and ordered 2 tubes from Forest Farm this Spring. They're only about a foot tall, so no catkins for me to describe to you. I doubt I would hire an arborist for 2 lone seedlings. Should I assume Forest farm knows what they're doing?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2004 at 9:04PM
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I'd trust Forest Farm. An arborist is going to cost about $50 and hour and sometimes they have a minimum charge. It's worth it if you have a lot of trees you want to confirm IDs on. Actually, a good arborist is worth the $50 an hour anyway as they are capable of spotting so much that neophytes, such as myself, overlook or just blatantly aren't qualified to spot. Good professionals are expensive.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2004 at 9:46PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Pure Red mulberry has leaves that are decidedly fuzzy/sandpapery on top, w/a rugose look, and larger than W mulberry. Pure white mulberry leaves are smooth. Hybrids occur where the two are in proximity.

Here is a link that might be useful: Red mulberry

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 9:13AM
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ahughes798(z5 IL)

Well, we had a bunch of white mulberries ripping down our back fence. We decided they had to go, cuz right now we can't afford to buy a new fence. We cut them all down...they were all 6-12 foot saplings...and painted the stumps with brush killer. Tordon? Torlon? Anyway, it is brutal stuff...we put plastic bags over the stumps to make sure no animals could brush against them, and the problem was taken care of. I used the long, straight mulberry whips to make trellises and obelisks out they did not die in vain, much. April

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 12:09AM
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terri_ks(z5 KS)

I have a large native red mulberry and after reading these posts, i just had to go out and see- yes it is fuzzy.It hangs over my deck and in the morning I gather the fruit that has fallen on the patio table, plop it on my cereal and enjoy.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2004 at 11:44PM
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Flowerkitty(Z6 or Z5 SE MI)

Thanks to this post I now know I have a hybrid mulberry. Thought it was red mulberry, from the single large dark fruit at the twig tips. It is a large tall tree, trunk 1 1/2 foot diameter with bark that looks like a red mulberry. But the non lobed leaves are fuzzy only on the underside veins. That saves me the quest for seedlings. I will buy a true red mulberry for my next planting. This thread was very helpful

    Bookmark   August 15, 2004 at 2:10PM
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Help! We have a 30 foot Mulberry Tree in my front yard. We have put in a 3 foot concrete wall around my tree, with the idea that we would grow ferns around the tree. (ts very shady because of the tree). We would of course have a drip system for the ferns. Would the constant drip system be bad for the roots?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 8:47PM
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ziggy___(z5/6 PA)

If I'm picturing this correctly, the drip system won't matter because adding 3' of soil over the roots will suffocate it first. Second, some ferns are tolerant of dry conditions. If it is wet enough for a mulberry, ferns should be fine.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 3:27PM
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Too Many Pets- If you have an ag center, you should take a leaf/small branch there. They would gladly ID it for you- I'm pretty sure they'd be more than happy to tell you if its an invasive.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 12:15AM
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I have a couple of questions regarding Mulberries:

1. I read that Morus rubra (the US native mulberry) only grows to 20' in the northeast - that it only grows to 50 or 70 in the south or mid west? I live in NJ and hope that the tree is a small one (as in around 20').

2. Will the taste of Morus rubra's berries be significantly worse then the commercial M. alba x M. rubra hybrids, such as 'Illinois Everbearing'?

3. I really want(ed) to stick with the native variety (M. rubra), but don't want to significantly compromise on taste - could I graft a M. rubra limb onto my non-native M. alba x M. rubra hybrid (sapling) so that I have both varieties - I'll actually end up just keeping most of the tree M. rubra and only a single maintained limb of the original hybrid.

4. Will grafting the M. rubra onto the M. alba (x M. rubra) rootstock minimize the risk that M. rubra often experiences of root disease (spread by M. alba)? I figure that since the roots are not M. rubra's (at least I think they don't use M. rubra to do grafts) this would be an advantage.

5. Is M. rubra self-fertile - some sites say yes - and some say that it varies. I guess if it's female, the M. alba x M. rubra self-fertile limb would fertilize it.

6. Do you think that a 10' tall and wide Mulberry tree provides all the fruit one would want; if so, I might keep it pruned small.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 1:09AM
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    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 1:22PM
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I've been growing a dozen Red Mulberry trees in my suburban yard in the Houston area. They grow FAST. Some of them seem to be growing 4 feet per year. I grew them from mail-order seedlings that were no taller than a foot. It has been about 4 years since I planted them, if I'm not mistaken. I just noticed a few tiny berries for the first time recently. They were on the tallest one. I looked for them again a week later and they were gone. I assume they were delicious to whatever squirrel or bird nabbed them.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 9:21PM
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lukifell(zone5 NH)

For thousands of years mulberry trees have been prized because they produce food that a person can eat.

I am pretty sure my ancestors who lived in Europe did not care whether a plant was native or not. They just wanted food to eat so they would not starve to death. The origins of many European plants are unknown because they have been planted extensively for thousands of years.

People who proclaim only "native" plants are good have no idea what they are talking about.

The reason why white mulberry is more vigorous in the northern US is because of the Ice Ages. Our native cold-hardy mulberry was most likely wiped out by advancing ice sheets. This left only the southern-adapted red mulberry to repopulate the US. This explains why red mulberry grows so well in the Deep South. In Asia the ice sheets advanced much slower. This gave many plants time to escape to the south. This is why the white mulberry did not go extinct. White mulberry is perfectly adapted for every place from Michigan to New Hampshire.

It is simply the replacement species for our own cold-hardy mulberry which sadly went extinct.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 8:34PM
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