TREES & plants

White mulberry (males or fruitless cultivars)

Leaves of white mulberry.

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.

Botanical name: 
Morus alba
All Common Names: 
white mulberry, common mulberry
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks, 
  • City parkway, 
  • Wide median, 
  • Restricted sites
Landscape Uses: 
  • Parkway/street, 
  • Shade tree
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
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Aggressive, 
  • Messy fruit/plant parts, 
  • Weak wood and branch structure
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Fall color, 
  • Showy fruit
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
  • Birds, 
  • Small mammals
More Information: 

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.

Morus alba or White mulberry (males or fruitless cultivars)