The Red Mulberry is a valued wildlife tree and a rich food source for many species. Its delectable berries were recorded in 1607 by the first English colonists who explored Virginia; to this day, Red Mulberry’s proudest feature is the charming compound clusters of ambrosial fruit, visually similar to blackberries. These are edible, mild and very sweet, ripening to ruddy shades of jazzy red or dark purple. They are often produced as early as the third growing season given that the Red Mulberry grows incredibly fast; the highly nutritious berries mature as early as late April. It is little wonder that this species is praised nationwide as one of the most effective wildlife and fruit trees that can be so speedily grown and harvested.
This species features a canopy of dark green foliage, which is highlighted bright yellow in the autumn, and a stout trunk covered with reddish-brown tinted bark. The Red Mulberry’s spreading branches extend to reach an impressive diameter of 35-40 ft., while the tree’s rounded crown tops at about 35-50 ft. This tree thrives optimally in medium, well-drained soils and when situated to receive full sun to partial shade. It has a 4-8 hardiness zone rating and is tolerant of colder temperatures. Relatively inconspicuous flowers flourish along with the tree’s emerging leaves in early spring, typically from March to April, and are small and yellow-green.
Most often found in river valleys, moist hillsides, upland regions, and in floodplains, the Red Mulberry—or Morus Rubra, as it is binomially called—is a mulberry species associated with the botanical family Moraceae. This deciduous species is native to central and eastern North America, with a range that extends from Ontario to Florida and stretches as far west as South Dakota (it can even be found, in isolated populations, as far as New Mexico). Though listed in 2008 as an endangered plant in Canada—threatened primarily by its cross-breeding with the invasive non-native White Mulberry—the Red Mulberry is still widespread throughout the United States.
Those early Virginian settlers were amazed by the Red Mulberry’s abundance and cited that the berries were eaten by local Powhatan tribes. Many Native American tribes, in fact, were said to use the Red Mulberry’s sap for a variety of ailments as well, including ringworm, dysentery, and urination problems. Today, the Red Mulberry’s berries are frequently used in fruit pastries, fermented into wine, or eaten raw. This tree’s timber also has its place in the culinary arts, as it can be dried and used to enhance smoking meats with a mild sweet piquancy.
Photos Copyright © Horticopia, Inc. 2017
This Tree's Zone: 4 to 8
Your Growing Zone:
|Bloom Time||March to April|
|Shape||Spreading to rounded|
|Sun||Full sun to part shade|
|Size||35 to 50 feet|
|Spread||35 to 40 feet|