Content Detail

White mulberry can be invasive, so look for males or fruitless cultivars. It is an aggressive, often weedy tree native to China. It was originally imported for the silkworm industry, but has since naturalized throughout North America in fencerows, abandoned fields and urban areas.

  • Family (English) Mulberry
  • Family (botanic) Moraceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Restricted sites, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Mature height 30-50 feet
  • Mature width 30-50 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations Aggressive, Messy fruit/plant parts, Weak wood and branch structure
  • Wildlife Birds, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat: 

White mulberry is native to China.

Bark color and texture: 

On young trees, the bark is fairly smooth, but with visible lenticels.  On older trees, the bark becomes deeply fissured and reveals the inner bark.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

The simple, alternate leaves vary in shape. Some may be egg-shaped, while others are distinctly lobed (3 to 5 lobed). The leaf margins are serrate. The leaves are dark green in summer, turning yellow in fall (not always having consistently good fall color).

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

The male and female flowers may be on separate trees or on the same tree.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

The fruit is a 1 1/2 inch long cluster of tiny berry-like structures. The ripe fruit range from almost white to dark purple.

Plant care: 

White mulberry is fairly tolerant of alkaline soils. This can be a fairly high maintenance tree due to a tendency to self-seed.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

A variety of pests are possible on white mulberry,  including leaf spots, witches brooms, cankers, powdery mildew, spider mites and scale insects. It is tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Chaparral white mulberry (Morus alba ‘Chapparal’): 

A male (fruitless) cultivar with a weeping form. It is grafted onto a standard.

Kingan white mulberry  (Morus alba ‘Kingan’):

A male (fruitless) cultivar that is fast growing and drought tolerant.

Stribling white mulberry  (Morus alba ‘Stribling’): 

A male (fruitless) cultivar that is very cold hardy and fast growing.

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