Morus alba, White Mulberry

Gardens & Landscapes, Invasive Species, Extension Master Gardener January 28, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Invasive Species: Morus alba, White Mulberry

White mulberry is a small, 30 to 50 ft. (9.1 to 15.2 m) tall, deciduous tree that invades disturbed areas throughout the United States. The alternate leaves are polymorphic (variably shaped), 2 to 8 in. (5.1 to 20.3 cm) long, and shiny with blunt teeth and heart-shaped bases. Young bark, the bark along the roots, and the inner bark along the trunk are often bright orange. Older bark is gray with narrow, irregular fissures. Flowering occurs in April. Plants are normally dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). Male flowers are small and green and occur in 1 to 2 in. (2.5 to 5.1 cm) long catkins. Female flowers are inconspicuous and crowded in short spikes. The tree has multiple fruit that is a little longer but that otherwise  looks very similar to a blackberry. Colors range from white to pink, then red to purple as it matures. The fruit is eaten and dispersed by birds and other wildlife. White mulberry is very similar to the native red mulberry (Morus rubra L.) but may be distinguished by the leaves. White mulberry leaves have glossy surfaces, whereas the leaves of red mulberry do not. White mulberry is found throughout the United States, where it invades old fields, urban lots, roadsides, forest edges, and other disturbed areas. It poses an ecological threat by displacing native species, possibly hybridizing with and transmitting a root disease to the native red mulberry. White mulberry is native to Asia and was introduced in colonial times as a food source for silkworms.

What are invasive species and why should we be concerned about them? 


Taxonomy: Scientific and Common Names for This Species

Urticales > Moraceae > Morus alba L.

Synonym(s): mulberry

Morus alba - USDA PLANTS Profile

Distribution Maps

White mulberry - The reported distribution of this invasive species across the United States. (Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States)

Up-to-the-minute distribution maps and why they are important

Reporting This Invasive Species

What is the best way and place to report the occurrence of an invasive species? 

How to report an invasive species sighting to EDDMapS - Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System

EDDMapS - Report an invasive species to EDDMapS

Cooperative Extension Offices - Find your local Cooperative Extension office on this map provided by USDA

How to Identify

This invasive species can be identified by looking for the characteristics described in the paragraphs that follow.

Tree

A small, 30 to 50 ft. (9.1 to 15.2 m) tall, deciduous tree that invades disturbed areas throughout the United States.

Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., bugwood.org Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, bugwood.org

Foliage

The alternate leaves are polymorphic (variably shaped), 2 to 8 in. (5.1 to 20.3 cm) long, and shiny with blunt teeth and heart-shaped bases.

David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, bugwood.org David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, bugwood.org

Flower

Flowering occurs in April. Plants are normally dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). Male flowers are small and green and occur in 1 to 2 in. (2.5 to 5.1 cm) long catkins. Female flowers are inconspicuous and crowded in short spikes.

Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., bugwood.org Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., bugwood.org

Fruit

The tree has multiple fruit that is a little longer but that otherwise looks very similar to a blackberry. Colors range from white to pink, then red to purple as it matures. The fruit is eaten and dispersed by birds and other wildlife.

Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, bugwood.org Ohio State Weed Lab Archive, The Ohio State University, bugwood.org

Native Species That Resemble White Mulberry

Morus rubra, red mulberry - Images at invasive.org

Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, bugwood.org Paul Wray, Iowa State University, bugwood.org

 

- Images at invasive.org

   
bugwood.org bugwood.org

 

Additional Images for White Mulberry

White mulberry - Images at Invasive.org

 

Learning Resources for White Mulberry

 

Additional Information, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Control and management recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Location, habitat, weather, and a variety of other conditions are factors that help determine the best treatment choice. To find the safest and most effective treatment for your situation, consult your state's land-grant institution. If you will use chemicals as part of the control process, always refer to the product label.

United States Land-Grant University System - Find your land-grant university's College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, or other related partner on this map provided by USDA.

Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas - National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Weed of the Week - USDA Forest Service

Morus alba - Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group

Fact Sheet - Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Jepson Herbarium - University of California


 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.