Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Red Mulberry

Red Mulberry

Morus rubra

Full to part sun; moderately wet to moderately dry moisture level; prefers deep well drained soil high in organic matter but also grows in moderately coarse sandy loams, clay loam and clay; slightly acid to alkaline pH.

35-50 feet height by 35-40 feet spread; small dense, catkin-like flower spikes, ¾ – 1 inch long, in late spring; dark reddish purple berries, 1 inch long, and resembling a blackberry in mid-summer.

Growth Rate: Fast (10-12 feet in 5 years). May self-seed prolifically.

Maintenance: Medium. Frequent disease and insect problems. Frequent wind and ice damage.

Propagation: Seed germination code C (30-60) at 33-41 degrees F. Easy from seed or from cuttings.

Native Region: Statewide

Medium-sized tree with a short trunk and stout, spreading branches. Red Mulberry has long been used in Appalachia for raw fruit, pies, jams, juice and wine.   Not a desirable tree for a manicured setting due to its weedy self-seeding and messy fruit but desirable in a naturalized setting due to its very high wildlife rating. Trees are either monoecious (both male & female flowers on same tree) or dioecious (male & female flowers on separate trees). Need monoecious trees or both male and female trees to get fruit. A tree with only male flowers will never bear fruit. Best fruit production occurs in full sun. Native to shaded woods, stream and river banks, ditches, ravines and depressions. Growing the tree in its native habitat using local seed stock will help reduce debilitating pests.

Fruit attracts songbirds, upland birds, large and small mammals, and humans. Flowers attract butterflies, and leaves are larval food for Mourning Cloak and Red Admiral butterflies.




2 responses to “Red Mulberry

  1. Robert Sweat November 7, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    Where can I purchase these mulberry trees

    • joystewart November 18, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      It is funny that something so common can be hard to find in nurseries, but they are available. Mail Order Natives in Florida has 1 gallon pots for $10; however, they are not sexed so you may not get fruit. Overhill Gardens in Vonore, TN has 2 gallon pots for $21. I don’t know if the trees are sexed but that is a very nice nursery. I don’t know where you live but Vonore is a nice drive if you are in NE TN. They don’t mail order to my knowledge. GroWild is a huge native nursery near Nashville that likely carries them but they don’t mail order. Pine Ridge Gardens in AR carries them but right now out of mail-order size.

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