White mulberry can be invasive; 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.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median,
- Restricted sites
- Shade tree
- Large tree (more than 40 feet),
- Medium tree (25-40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Messy fruit/plant parts,
- Weak wood and branch structure
- Fall color,
- Showy fruit
Season of Interest:
- Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Small mammals
Tree & Plant Care
Fairly tolerant of alkaline soils.
This can be a fairly high maintenance tree due to a tendency to self-seed.
Disease, pests, and problems
A variety of pests are possible including leaf spots, witches brooms, cankers, powdery mildew, spider mites and scale insects.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to China.
Bark color and texture
On young trees, 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
Simple, alternate leaves vary in shape. Some may be egg-shaped, while others are distinctly lobed (3 to 5 lobed). Leaf margins are serrate.
Leaves are dark green in summer, turning yellow in fall (not always consistently good fall color).
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
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; ripe fruit range from almost white to dark purple.
Cultivars and their differences
Chapparal white mulberry (Morus alba 'Chapparal'): A male (fruitless) cultivar; weeping form grafted onto a standard.
Kingan white mulberry (Morus alba 'Kingan'): A male (fruitless) cultivar. The cultivar is fast growing and drought tolerant.
Stribling white mulberry (Morus alba 'Stribling'): A male (fruitless) cultivar. Very cold hardy and fast growing.