Mulberry Tree Guide: Leaves, How to Buy, Locations (11 Surprising Facts)

Close up image of a Mulberry Tree branch, with dark red mulberry tree fruit, deep green serrated edge mulberry tree leaves and blue sky behind in an oval frame.

Did you know that there are both fruit-bearing and non-fruit-bearing Mulberry trees?7 It’s true. And this famous tree is truly one of the most beloved trees in history, not only a central symbol in the love story of Pyramus and Thisbe, but Mulberry trees represent faith, growth, and nature in many cultures.

In fact, this celebrated tree is wrapped in legend, metaphor, and historical significance. You can eat the fruit, and enjoy the blooms, and some studies suggest that Mulberries can even help treat some cancers!

So jump in and learn some new and wonderful facts about the lovely Mulberry Tree.

Mulberry, White Mulberry, Red Mulberry, Black Mulberry and Silkworm Mulberry

(Morus alba (White) Morus rubra (Red) )

Mulberry Tree image in oval frame over a green background
  • Family: Moraceae
  • Leaf: Varies from thin with up to 3 lobes, to heart shaped, with serrated edges.
  • Genus: Morus L.
  • Bark: Greyish brown, with scaly, long ridges
  • Seed: Part of the fruit, which resembles blackberries
  • Blossoms: Tiny, greenish clusters
  • Fruit: Red to dark purple when ripe, sweet and juicy
  • Height: 25-60 feet tall
  • Canopy: up to 40 feet
  • Type: Deciduous
  • Other Fact: Unripe fruit is poisonous

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Not Evaluated


The mulberry tree is common on continents all over the world, but they weren’t always ‘everywhere.’ Check out some of the coolest and strangest facts about mulberry trees.

Mulberry Tree Folklore and Fun Facts

The following folklore and fun facts about Mulberry trees may surprise you.

  1. Mulberry trees were used to make paper in Asia, crafted from the bark and stems. And currently, it’s used to make the thinnest paper in the world.2
  2. When eaten before they are ripe, the juice and fruit of the mulberry tree are poisonous.10
  3. Male flowering trees have high concentrations of pollen, which is very allergenic, while the pollen from female-only trees is not.8 In Fact, many female trees are considered:allergy-free.”
  4. Silkworms love White Mulberry trees, and they were imported to the U.S. from China with the idea of feeding the worm. However, the plan didn’t last.
  5. Black Mulberry trees are not commonly found in the U.S., but they produce the largest fruit.
  6. Mulberry trees are very easy to grow from seeds.
  7. The Mulberry fruit can be used to make natural dyes for clothing.
  8. Mulberry trees are perfect as bird-feeding trees.
  9. The Mulberry has a number of medicinal qualities as well.
  10. A few U.S. cities have banned male Mulberry tree planting, because of the danger of asthma present to many people. 4
  11. Both John Milton and William Shakespeare planted famous Mulberry trees, the one at Cambridge is still thriving today.

Mulberry Tree Types

Like all trees, there are many various types of Mulberry, that have similar, yet distinctive qualities. This list of 20 outline some of the most common varieties.

#1 – Four Seasons Mulberry Trees

This Mulberry tree can grow as high as 15 feet. It’s a native to Taiwan and was ‘discovered’ there during the 1950s, and was quickly transplanted to the West.

It produces fruit but only tastes mildly sweet.

#2 – Beautiful Day Mulberry Trees

The Beautiful Day Mulberry is usually grown in Zone 5 up to 9. It has a small fruit but is distinctively very sweet despite the tree itself being massive.

#3 – Black Beauty Fruiting Mulberry Trees

While the other mulberries are trees, the Black Beauty mulberry tree is considered a shrub, and only grows as high as 12 feet. It can grow in Zones 7 and below.

Like cherry tree varieties, it can fertilize itself so you don’t need two trees, and its fruits are available for picking during the early summer.

#4 – Contorted Mulberry Trees

This tree has a stance of only 8 feet, and it grows well in zones 1-4. It bears tiny black fruit and its ‘contorted’ branches give it a unique look.

#5 – David Smith Everbearing Mulberry Trees

This is a unique tree that is commonly grown between zones 9 down to 4.

There’s an establishment in Oxford, New York, that is designed to produce a massive amount of its fruit.

#6 – Downing Mulberry Trees

This is among the oldest types of mulberries and was discovered as early as the 1800s. This is usually propagated between Zones 9 down to 5.

Unlike the other mulberries, this just keeps on growing all throughout the year.

#7 – Hick’s Everbearing Mulberry Trees

Just like the Downing mulberry tree, this is also among the oldest types. This is commonly seen on Zones 5 up to 9.

This tree bears its fruit in a span of 3 to 4 months straight.

#8 – Florida Giant Mulberry Trees

This is considered a giant mulberry tree that is usually cultivated on Zones 6 up to 10. This tree grows fast and has larger fruit, about an inch and a half in size!

#9 – Illinois Everbearing Mulberry Trees

This is considered a dwarf (semi) mulberry tree because of its size. While its habitat is generally in zone 4 up to 9, it can still live in temperatures as low as -20 Fahrenheit.

#10 – Kokuso Mulberry Trees

This tree bears quite a large size of fruit which is 2-inch long and spanning 1 inch. This is usually grown in the northern part of the US, particularly Minnesota.

It is highly recommended for growing zones 5 to 9.

#11 – Middleton Mulberry Tree

The mulberry tree was found in the 1920s in a nursery located in Australia, and also bears high-quality and large fruits.

#12 – Northrop Mulberry Tree

This is considered a medium-sized mulberry tree with origins in Postdam, New York. This tree can withstand cold temperatures up to -50 Fahrenheit and does well in growing zones 4-8.

#13 – Pakistan Mulberry Trees

This is quite a large tree that grows as high as 30 – 45 feet. This is a native to Pakistan and thrives in cooler climates.

#14 – Persian Mulberry Trees

This tree has its origin in California and also prefers a chillier climate. Since the tree is so dense, it can also live in the Pacific Northwest. It is known to produce the tastiest mulberry fruit.

#15 – Rupp’s Romanian Mulberry Trees

This is a large tree that is native to Illinois. Aside from having a big tree, it also bears big fruit.

#16 – Russian Mulberry Trees

The tree grows as high as 20 feet. This is called the Russian mulberry tree but it originated and thrives in China. It is drought-resistant and its fruit is commonly used to make jellies and jams.

#17 – Shangri La Mulberry Trees

This is another large tree that grows as high as 20 feet, but this mulberry originated in Naples, Florida, and can flourish in warmer climates. This mulberry tree is popular because of its attractive heart-shaped leaves.

#18 – Stubbs Mulberry Trees

This is a not-so-tall tree as it has a stance of only 10 feet and produces fruit, but not much as other varieties.

#19 – Tehama (Giant White) Mulberry Trees

Because of its size, this mulberry tree is considered a great shade tree. Aside from being a large tree, it bears large fruit which is around three inches long. The produce of this tree is often used to feed chickens and ducks.

#20 – World’s Best Mulberry Trees

This variant of mulberry tree grows as high as 15 feet. It usually thrives on Zones 6 up to 10 and produces huge, two inches size of fruit. However, during the cold season, this tree has difficulty bearing fruits.

What Do Mulberry Trees Look Like?

Mulberry trees are typically under 20 feet in height, but can1 grow up to 30–60 ft tall and has a lifespan of about 70 years, which may have contributed to its cultural significance. However, some mulberry trees have been known to live for over 200 years.

Mulberry tree identification chart showing black beauty mulberry leaves, red mulberry flowers, mulberry tree, Illinois Everbearing mulberry fruits, and white mulberry bark in oval frames.

(Red Mulberry Flower Image: Famartin14)

With rich, deep green leaves that change to gold and yellow in the fall, the trees are an ornament to any area, spreading their branches wide.

Native Habitat and Movement of Mulberry Trees

Native to areas in Asia and along the equator, the Mulberry also is found in China and the United States.

Two different species grow in North America, the Red and White Mulberry, named for the color of the flower buds they produce in spring.

Mulberry tree growth chart showing full grown Mulberry tree on a line graph with Mulberry tree age on the x-axis and Mulberry tree height on the y-axis.

Mulberry trees are best planted in early spring. They grow quickly and can reach 12 feet in about 6 years.1

Mulberry Tree Leaf Characteristics

The leaves of mulberry trees grow up to 12 inch long and remain deeply green during the summer. In the spring, they change to yellowish and gold colors, before falling.

Mulberry tree leaf identification chart showing white mulberry, red mulberry and black mulberry leaves in oval frames.

Older trees tend to have smaller leaves, but all mulberry leaves are oblong in shape, have serrated edges, and can have up to four lobes.

The Red Mulberry features heart-shaped, smaller leaves, about 4-inch long and three inches wide. The texture of the leaves varies, depending on the tree, but usually is rough-surfaced on top with fine, soft hairs on the underside.

Mulberry Bark Characteristics

With bark that is scaly and can peel and curl, the Mulberry tree has a crooked trunk covered in grayish-brown bark.

A photograph showing mulberry tree bark, with clusters of green leaves visible in the background. The bark appears rough and textured, with natural variations in color and tone.

(Image: Stylidium11)

As trees age, the ridges in the bark transform into deep furrows.

Mulberry Seed and Flower Characteristics

As deciduous trees, Mulberry trees possess the adaptable ability to have both male and female flowers (so the tree can seed itself) or bear only male, or only female flowers.

Mulberry tree seed identification chart with pine seeds, ash seeds, persimmon and sweetgum seeds in circles.
The flowers grow in clumps, tightly grouped clusters of pale green, which become the fruit.

Mulberry Tree Medicinal Qualities: Health Benefits of Mulberries

The medicinal qualities of Mulberries have been touted for thousands of years, and even today, they are heralded as a natural solution to many common (and not so common) disorders.

Close up image of ripe and unripe mulberry tree fruit, mulberry berries rich red and greenish white unripe fruits.

(Image: ikon12)

Related to figs, the berries can be made into jams, wine, and tea, eaten raw or dried.

With both iron and vitamin C, the fruits also have a good amount of fiber in the form of pectin (one quarter) and lignin.

Mulberries also contain Vitamin K1, which is known for its blood and bone health benefits.

Related Reading: Magnolia Tree Guide, Banyan Tree Guide, Oak Tree Guide, Dogwood Tree Guide and Guide to the Miraculous Willow Tree

The color of the fruit also plays a role in its nutritional value. the deeper the color of reds and purples means higher levels of antioxidants, and Myricetin, a compound that has been proven to protect against some forms of cancer.9

All these traits make it possible to claim that the following health benefits can be derived from Mulberries:

  • Lowering Cholesterol
  • Improving Blood Sugar
  • Reduced Risk of some cancers

Mulberry Tree Fruit: How To Eat Delicious Mulberries

Sweet and delicious, Mulberry tree fruit can be used in a variety of ways, but you should know how to avoid the toxic unripe fruit before eating it.

Mulberries aren’t really berries because they grow on trees, not vines. They’re closely related to the fig, but taste more like blackberries.

How To Know When Mulberries Are Ripe

Because ingesting the unripe fruit of the Mulberry tree can be toxic, it’s important to recognize when they are ripe. Ripe fruit can be white, purple (both light and dark), and red. The bad news is that some varieties are ripe when they are light purple, while others are not.

The key is knowing what particular tree you have. If you can’t identify the tree by its leaves and bark, you’ll need to watch it for at least a year before harvesting any fruit. Watch the tree’s stages from early spring to fall, and monitor the color of the fruits.

Typically, the fruit will fall when it’s completely ripe… so the color of the fruit that stains the ground around the tree is a good indicator of the color it should be when ripe. Since the name of the tree has nothing whatsoever to do with the color of the ripe fruit, this is the best method.

Picking and Harvesting Mulberries

Mulberries can be easily picked with the fingers, but like blackberries, are delicate when ripe and the juice can stain.

Related Reading: How much carbon does a tree capture?

One popular method for harvesting ripe berries is to place a large, clean tarp or canvas below a laden branch. Then shake the branch to dislodge the ripe fruits. From the canvas, you can collect the berries for washing (cold water baths are best, just don’t soak them too long) to remove debris and insects.

Like many other berries, this fruit doesn’t last long, so as soon as you’ve harvested and cleaned them, use them. Fortunately, the entire tree won’t ripen all at once, and you can harvest berries as they become ripe for a lengthy use season.

Recipe Ideas for Mulberries

Like blackberries, blueberries, and others, mulberries can be used in a wide number of recipes, or to enhance old favorites. Some scrumptious ideas include:

  • Jams and jellies: High levels of pectin make mulberries perfect for preserving.
  • Mulberry Shortcake: Use Mulberries instead of strawberries for a delicious dessert.
  • Mulberry Scones and Pancakes: add fresh mulberries to the batter, then bake as normal.

When using fresh mulberries, remove the small green stem at the ends. However, if you’re using them to make jams and jellies that will be ‘seeded’ using a food mill, there’s no need to bother.

Also try adding fresh mulberries to cereals, cocktails, and yogurt.

How To Buy Mulberry Trees

Like all tree species, the key to buying a healthy sapling is to choose one from a local grower. Local nurseries usually grow the trees from seeds, providing saplings that are uniquely acclimated to the area.

Not only does this help reduce the carbon footprint of your purchase, but it gives the tree the best chance for survival, which can act as a carbon offset tree, just as if you’d purchased the mulberry tree from a carbon offset company.

The Mulberry tree, a sturdy and defiant species, is particularly adaptable to a number of climates. They line many roads in California and throughout the United States. So the next time you see a tree that is staining the sidewalk with purple fruits, it may be a Mulberry tree!


1Wikipedia. (2022, June 24). Morus alba. Wikipedia. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from <>

2The Magnolia Company. (2021, March 22). The Incredible Symbolism of The Magnolia Tree. The Magnolia Company. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from <,used%20as%20a%20sleep%20aid.>

3Sullivan, J. (1993). SPECIES: Morus rubra. USDA Forest Service. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from <>

4Grant, A. (2021, April 15). Mulberry Tree Care – Learn How To Grow Mulberry Trees. Gardening Know How. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from <>

5Red List. (2022). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Red List. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from <>

6RxList Inc. (2021, June 11). White Mulberry. Rx List. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from <>

7Carter, K. (2007, July 31). Fruitless Mulberry Tree Morus alba. UC ANR. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from <>

8Wilkins, V. (2022, February 10). Mulberry – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. UF|IFAS Gardening Solutions. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from <>

9Nam, J. K., Sung, K. J., Ki, W. L., & Hyong, J. L. (2011, July 27). Myricetin is a potent chemopreventive phytochemical in skin carcinogenesis. PubMed. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from <>

10N.C. Cooperative Extension. (2022). Morus rubra. NC State Extension. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from <>

11Stylidium. Pixabay. Retrieved from, <>

12ikon. Pixabay. Retrieved from, <>

13Featured Image and Species Information Image: Tree, Nature, mulberry, and clouds Photo by jules a. (2020, May 26) / Unsplash License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved March 17, 2022 and October 11, 2022, from <>

14Red Mulberry leaves and flowers within Franklin Farm Park in the Franklin Farm section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia Photo by Famartin / Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International. Resize and change format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from <,_Fairfax_County,_Virginia.jpg>