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):

Mulberry

Family (Botanic):

Moraceae

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree

Foliage:

  • 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

Wildlife:

  • 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.

Location of Morus alba (White mulberry (males or fruitless cultivars)) at the Arboretum