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White mulberry

(Morus alba)

Photo of white mulberry
Photo credit: S. Kelly Kearns

A deciduous tree or shrub reaches 30-50 feet tall. Plants have variable leaf shapes from simple to deeply lobed, with edible fruits ranging from white to red to black as they ripen.

Overview

Other names for this plant include:
  • Common names: Chinese white mulberry, common mulberry, Russian mulberry, silkworm mulberry, chi sang, chin sang, moral blanco
  • Scientific names: M. alba var. constantinopolitana, Morus alba var. multicaulis, Morus tatarica, Morus indica, Morus multicaulis
Ecological threat:
  • Invades open forests, woodland edges, prairies, fields, and disturbed areas.
  • Tolerant of a wide variety of conditions; salt-tolerant, withstands drought and wind-resistant.
  • Outcompetes and hybridizes with our native mulberry, replacing those populations.
Overview map of white mulberry classification in WI
Restricted (orange) counties

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted (male cultivars exempt)

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for white mulberry was based upon this literature review [PDF] developed by the department.

Identification

Leaves & stems: Alternate, glossy green leaves vary greatly in shape from simple to lobed on the same tree. Often younger trees and trees found in full sun have greater lobed leaves. Trees found in shade tend to have more simple leaves. Leaves have three strong veins originating from the base. Leaves turn pale yellow in fall. The bark of young trees is brownish-orange with lenticels. As plants age, the bark turns gray and develops irregular cracks or ridges.

Flowers: Flowers are perfect, containing both female and male reproductive organs. Flowers are small, greenish to yellow in color and occur in spikes.

Fruits & seeds: Fruits resemble that of other mulberry species or a slender blackberry. Fruits change from white to red to black as they ripen. Fruits are edible.

Similar species: White mulberry is very similar to American mulberry or red mulberry (Morus rubra; native). This native mulberry species tends to be more of a shrub and the leaves are simple.

Visit the Wisconsin State Herbarium link under the resources tab for more information on identification.

Control

Mechanical:
  • Hand pull, dig or use a weed wrench to remove younger trees.
  • Girdle larger trees or cut and grind the stump.
Chemical:
  • Cut trees and immediately paint the stumps with glyphosate.

Photos

View white mulberry pictures in our photo gallery!

Resources

Sources for content:
  • Carey, Jennifer H. 1994. Artemisia absinthium. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).[2013, August 12].
  • University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium
  • Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Management; invasive.org
Links for more information: