The uncommon red mulberry is a native woodland tree often reaching 40 to 60 feet tall. The dark green leaves turn a golden yellow and often remain late into autumn. The deep purple fruits of the female tree are sweet and relished by wildlife but can be quite messy.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
All common names:
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median,
- Restricted sites
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Alkaline soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Wet sites,
- Alkaline soil
- May be difficult to find in nurseries,
- Messy fruit/plant parts,
- Weak wood and branch structure
- Fall color,
- Edible fruit,
- Showy fruit,
- Attractive bark
Seasons of Interest:
- early fall,
- mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Game birds,
- Game mammals,
- Small mammals,
Tree & Plant Care
Fairly tolerant of alkaline soils.
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
This tree has a wide native range but is not commonly found.
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 on separate trees (dioecious). Flowers are in small clusters, but inconspicuous.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
The fruit is a 1 1/2 inch long cluster of tiny berry-like structures; dark purple when ripe.