Are Mulberries Edible? Yes But Mulberry Trees Are Illegal (What They Look Like)

Monkey wonders why are mulberry trees illegal and are mulberries edible and if there is a guide for how to identify mulberry tree leaves, berries, flowers, types of mulberry trees.

With a native habitat that spans continents including Africa, North America, Europe, and Asia, many people wonder, why are Mulberry Trees illegal? You can eat mulberries, but that’s not why they are banned in some areas.

The reason has less to do with the tree itself and more to do with the inconvenience they can produce for agencies tasks with maintenance and some individuals who suffer from an allergic reaction to the high levels of pollen they can produce.

The Mulberry Tree thrives quickly in moist soil and plenty of sunlight. However, these trees and berries are often linked to the spread of pests and ailments, an issue that comes with legal ramifications, which prompted several states to make them illegal to plant in the 80’s and 90’s.

Understanding what Mulberry Trees look like as well as the benefits they can deliver when planted in the right places, can help explain why some towns and cities have banned them from being planted and answer the question, why are mulberry trees illegal in some places?

Are Mulberries Edible? Why Are Mulberry Trees Illegal?

Yes, most mulberries are edible and safe for human consumption, but ONLY when ripe. In some cultures, mulberries are a delicacy.

Mulberries have several nutritional benefits.1,13 Mulberries are cherished across the globe for their sweet flavor.

Inasmuch as mulberries are found in different dishes, some people prefer eating them raw. Mulberries have a tasty flavor, packed with different minerals and many health benefits.

Image of a Mulberry tree with its branches, green leaves, red and black mulberry fruit.

(Image: jules a.15)

Caution is, however, required to differentiate between edible mulberries and nonedible ones.1 However, any mulberry that is not fully ripe or contains white sap are toxic.

The leaves and bark with the white tree sap are also highly toxic, so they can be a danger to pets or small children.

As such, having a Mulberry tree planted on public property can present legal dangers for cities and states if an unsuspecting or ignorant person consumes them.

Mulberry Tree (Fruitless Mulberry Tree)

While known for its picturesque landscaping, the mulberry has a thick bark that makes it drought resistant.2

When looking for identification charts that show Red Berry Tree identification characteristics, the fruitless mulberry won’t be included in the types of trees listed.

During autumn, fruitless Mulberry Trees would parade a spectacular reddish-gold show, and who wouldn’t like to have a glimpse of a dazzling scene in the backyard? Compared to other fruits, mulberries are not so tasking.

There are about 150 species of Mulberry Trees,4 however, the most common varieties include;

  • Black Mulberry (Morus nigra)
  • White Mulberry (Morus alba)
  • Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

Mulberry plants grow well in fertile and moist areas. So, how do you distinguish between a fruitless Mulberry Tree and those with berries?

The Morus alba, also known as the White Mulberry, is fruitless. More so, fruitless Mulberry Trees are known for their dense branches that offer shade and privacy.

Why Are Mulberry Trees Illegal?

White Mulberry Trees have been restricted in some areas owing to their invasive nature that threatens the survival of indigenous habitats.6 For instance, the white blueberry has been outlawed in the states of Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

In addition, people are not allowed to plant White Mulberry Trees on the private property despite the picturesque display.

All these efforts are aimed at safeguarding the innate ecosystem for sustainability. At that point, lovers of alluring landscapes can opt for other plants.

What Does a Mulberry Tree Look Like?

What does a Mulberry Tree look like (Image: unicase24)?


(Morus spp.)

  • Fruit Color: Black, Purple/Lavender, Red/Burgundy, Pink, White
  • Fruit Type: Berry
  • Texture: Succulent, plump, and juicy, resembling a blackberry.
  • Size: 2–3 centimetres long
  • Fruit Description: Clustered like a blackberry. Turns from pink to red while ripening, then dark purple or black.
  • Ripe when: The fruit come off the tree easily, when they are plump and at full dark purple/red, or a full white.
  • Taste: Have a good balance of sweet and tart flavors, sometimes with a hint of baking spices or woody cedar.
  • Shelf Life: 2–3 days once ripe
  • Toxic: The berries are toxic when white "juice" is present, they can only be consumed safely when perfectly ripe.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


How the Mulberry Tree looks is a function of many factors. Tree type plays a huge role in differentiating them.

Essentially, there are three main types of Mulberry Tree:

1. Red Mulberry Trees

Red Mulberry Trees are indigenous to America. These trees produce quality, tasty berries too.

The leaves are oval with three-cornered tips, differentiating them from white and Black Mulberry Trees. They grow well in lowland regions and wooden locations.

Image of a Red Mulberry tree and its yellow leaves inside a backyard with white fence in a neighborhood.

(Image: Famartin16)

This type of mulberry does well in moist soils. This tree has been held in high esteem for centuries thanks to its hue and medicinal value.

Red Mulberry Trees are also renowned for allergic reactions. Also, Red Mulberry Trees grow comparatively fast, reaching 80 feet, and a rugged and rounded crown offers ample shelter during summer.

Image of short Black Mulberry trees with its yellow leaves in a field.

(Image: Magdalena Šajinovićová17)

2. Black Mulberry Trees

Black Mulberry Trees are indigenous to Asia and reach 30 feet in height.4 These trees have large green and lustrous leaves.

These leaves fall during autumn to provide striking scenery. These mulberry species produce dark purple sweet mulberries.

This tree produces some of the highest quality black mulberries. It’s also common in warm, drier regions, especially California.

Therefore, Mulberry Tree, Florida can be ideal fruit trees in Florida.

Nevertheless, Black Mulberry Trees in Florida have bush canopies. People who enjoy green vegetation’s beauty and splendor should consider adding Black Mulberry Trees to change their landscape appearance.

These trees are not restricted like white blueberry but grow favorably in ASEAN countries.

3. White Mulberry Trees

As indicated above, White Mulberry are prohibited in some countries. But why are Mulberry Trees illegal?

White Mulberry Trees are predominant owing to the wide varieties evident in this family.4

Wide angle shot of a tall White Mulberry tree with its green leaves in a field together with other trees.

(Image: Nucatum amygdalarum18)

Apart from many White Mulberry Trees, they also have many shapes that make them unique.

Additionally, they produce black, purple, pink, or white fruits. The thick bark allows Mulberry Trees to retain water for longer periods.

In particular, this attribute makes these trees defiant to harsh climates. Different Mulberry Trees have different bark colors that set each apart.

Nonetheless, it has smooth and yellow-brown twigs. Smooth and glossy leaves also characterize the White Mulberry Tree but vary in size as it ages.

Primarily, whereas the young shoots have long leaves with meticulous lobes, the mature nodes have unlobed, short leaves with saw-like edges.

Only female White Mulberries with flowers can produce fruits.8,11 Again, about half of white mulberries look like blackberries.

Black and red mulberries are more flavorful than white mulberries, which are tasteless. However, the white buds grow faster than other Mulberry Trees.

What Does a Mulberry Tree Look Like?

The table below will help identify what a Mulberry Tree looks like:

White Mulberry Trees (Morus alba)Black Mulberry Trees (Morus nigra)Red Mulberry Trees (Morus rubra)
  • Slender, the medium tree growing up to 40
  • Pollution and drought resistant and grows well in poor soil
  • produces white, purple, and black or pink fruits
  • Medium-sized tree and grows up to 30 feet
  • Common in warm, drier regions
  • Large fruits similar to Blackberry but tasty
  • Has bushy growth
  • Grows up to 40 feet high
  • Grow well in moist soils
  • produces black or reddish fruits
  • Has dense branches similar to a round crown

Is Mulberry Bush or Tree?

Mulberries grow on trees; however, the Mulberry Tree can be a bush with multiple stems or a tree growing from a single trunk. Unless pruned periodically, the Mulberry Tree can grow bushy.

For instance, the truth is not pruned; it will grow into a bush with several stems.

On the other hand, the mulberry can grow into a single tree with a distinctive canopy when it’s regularly pruned. Moreover, the ecology influences whether the burry will develop into a tree or bush.

Specifically, mulberry that grows in different humidity and temperature levels develops into a tree. On the contrary, those found in disturbed areas, including fields and roadside, are likely to form a bush.

Are Mulberry Trees Invasive?

Are Mulberry Trees invasive? You may be wondering. Mulberry Trees, especially the white variety, are invasive.8

This fast-growing tree grows up to 40 feet high.

White Mulberry originated from China and was introduced to the United States during the colonial era to establish the silk industry.1 Although the silk industry was abandoned, the White Mulberry outmatched the Red Mulberry native to the United States.

Thus, you might be wondering if White Mulberry Trees are invasive. Yes, it causes ecological threats by invading woodland, open forests, and disturbed areas commonly affected by the mulberry weed.

Although resistant to drought, wind, and salt, the White Mulberry out-competes and crossbreeds with the native Mulberry Trees. Whereas invasive species are not bad, it leads to ecological succession.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t suggest that white mulberries are not dangerous trees and should be endorsed to be grown anywhere. They usually out-compete the native Red Mulberry causing excess pollen, one of the issues why Mulberry Trees are illegal.

How To Kill Mulberry Trees

While Mulberry Trees are in many species and have existed for ages, is it even possible to harbor an illusion of killing Mulberry Trees? Not only are Mulberry Trees aesthetically pleasing, but they also have vital medical and culinary benefits.

Mulberry leaves, for instance, are food for silkworms, making Mulberry Trees the mainstay of the silk industry. Furthermore, mulberries are an important ingredient in baked goods.

Despite their many applications, Mulberry Trees are shelters and homes for birds and animals. Even crucial in the climate change discourse is that Mulberry Trees contribute to carbon sequestration alleviating the urban heat island effect.14

Different Mulberry Tree species differ in size and appearance, with some growing at 80 feet as long as they are supported by enough sunlight and well-aerated soil.

How Big Do Mulberry Trees Get?

Mulberry Trees are characterized by size and prolonged existence.

While these trees grow 20-60 feet,2 some species can grow beyond 80 feet in ideal conditions.

Image of a tall Mulberry Tree with its dark brown bark and green leaves beside two raised garden beds in a campus.

(Image: Mike Dickison19)

A mature Mulberry Tree can span 50 feet, a significant shade cover. Since mulberries grow steadily, their open structure makes prune and shaping them into different forms easy.

Certain mulberry species are stumpy, making them ideal for container gardening; regular pruning is needed to control their growth. By and large, Mulberry Trees are remarkable in size and stature.

Problems With Mulberry Trees

Why are Mulberry trees illegal? Some of the problems has to do with their seasonal issues. The issue of how to kill Mulberry Trees arises from the many frustrations property owners experience.

Dropping fruits from mature trees can be a terrible mess on lawns, driveways, and sidewalks.5

Moreover, mulberry roots are known to expand in search of water and nutrients, damaging property and foundations.  Young seedlings are weak, often falling over or breaking during heavy winds and rain which is dangerous.

The high maintenance makes them difficult for many gardeners to perform. The fruit does not stay ripe or fresh for very long.

A maximum of four days from harvest to use is about all the mulberry can survive. This makes them an unprofitable crop for selling in U.S. markets.

Benefits of Mulberries

In addition to the nutritional content contained in Mulberries, these trees can offer an excellent companion plant for other fruit trees.

Close up image of a Red Mulberry fruit with its tiny fruit clusters on a stem and its green leaves.

(Image: janaprusova20)

The high pollen content attracts bees and other insects that pollinate. Silkworms also solely feed on mulberry leaves.

Wild Mulberry Trees

Wild Mulberry Trees thrive in different parts of the world, including South East Asia and the U.S.3 They also thrive in different climates and soil types.

Mulberry Trees grow near streams, rivers, or other water sources as a considerable amount of oxygen is needed to survive. Wild Mulberry Trees offer shelter and food to humans and animals hence vital for the ecosystem.

Gardeners prefer Mulberry Trees because of their ability to adapt to changing climatic conditions and also for being low-maintenance trees. By and large, wild Mulberry Trees are a true testament to nature’s adaptability and resilience.

Is Mulberry Poisonous?

Different Mulberry Trees bear poisonous fruits;10 however, the species grown for their nourishing fruits are not poisonous.6 It would be prudent to identify trees with edible fruits before consuming them to avoid ingestion, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Moreover, it is good to note that some people may react differently with a moderate allergy to mulberries, particularly if they get affected by figs or kiwis. Species like the Pakistani Mulberry Tree produce very long, ruby red fruits, about 3-4 inches, and are renowned for their sweetness.

Close up image of White Mulberry Tree fruits on a stem and its green leaves.

(Image: byrev21)

The narrative of how to kill Mulberry Trees does not feature among environmentalists. Nonetheless, it is healthy to feast on mulberry fruits but in moderation.

Differentiating between edible mulberries and poisonous ones remains critical.

Mulberry Tree Seeds

Like most trees, Mulberry Trees grow from seeds.7 These trees grow well in the U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness regions 5 to 8.

There are various ways to disseminate the Mulberry Tree. But summer would be the perfect season to harvest seeds before cold stratification, a process to prepare seeds for planting.

Since the civilization of humans, plants, and animals have aided in dispersing seeds and creating new ecosystems. This is no different from Mulberry Tree seeds.

While you can plant mulberry seeds, birds and animals can also take seeds from one place to another through their droplets.

Mulberry Tree Leaves (Mulberry Tree Flower)

It is important to understand the difference between Mulberry Tree leaves and flowers. While leaves are often green, White Mulberry flowers have a reddish-gold color, which is why most gardeners like them.4

The top surface is hairy, while the underneath is downy. Black Mulberry has different leaves on single trees.

Close image of Red Mulberry tree fruits and its green leaves on a sunny morning.

(Image: Ninetechno22)

The flowers of Black Mulberry are green tiny spikey catkins.  Also, the White Mulberry Tree has tiny green leaves with spikes.

However, some trees have oval leaves with saw-like edges. Unlike Black Mulberry, the White Mulberry’s leaves are straight, glossy, smooth, and not hairy.

Equally, the Red Mulberry Tree has thin, rough heart-shaped leaves with saw-like edges. More so, leaves tend to vary in shape.

The Red Mulberry leaves are rough underneath.9 The flowers of Red Mulberry Trees are either dioecious or monoecious.7

The monoecious Red Mulberry has female and male flowers in the same tree. Conversely, dioecious Red Mulberry has female and male flowers on different trees.

Flowering begins in early spring.

Mulberry Tree FlowerFlower Features
Red MulberryDioecious or monoecious
White MulberryFemale and male flowers
Black MulberryGreen, tiny, spikey catkins

Mulberry Tree Facts

Below are Mulberry Tree facts:

1. They are deciduous trees growing in wild Asia and North America.3

2. There are three forms of Mulberry Trees; Red Mulberry Native American; White Mulberry, the East Asia native; and Black Mulberry, southwestern Asian.7

At least 150 Mulberry Tree species have been identified for several decades, but only 16 are recognized.

Other familiar species include African Mulberry and Texas Mulberry.

3. The White Mulberry variety is the widely planted Mulberry Tree.

Some White Mulberry Trees are dioecious, while others are monoecious with impeccable flowers.1

Nonetheless, only female White Mulberry Trees with flowers can produce fruits.

These fruits are similar to blackberries and are roughly ½ to 1 foot long, and they are dark purple or white when ripe before falling during mid-summer.8

4. The illegality of Mulberry Trees is due to the hybridization of the red variety.

5.The Black Mulberry Tree can only be in warm climates,12 while the white variety can grow in the United States region.7

The red mulberries grow well in lowland areas and wooden areas.

6. Produce wood used to make carving, furniture, and construction

Can You Eat Mulberries Raw?

Yes! You can eat mulberries raw prompting many people to ask, why are mulberry trees illegal?

Mulberries are nutritious fruits and can be consumed raw. The problem occurs when the fruit is consumed…when unripe, it can be toxic.

Close up image of a Black Mulberry fruit with its tiny black fruit clusters.

(Image: byrev23)

With a sugary taste, one can easily mistake mulberries for blackberries. Even more important is that mulberries contain different compounds, including potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium that are good for health.

Nevertheless, some people can react differently to high-fiber content. Again, wash mulberries before consuming them in their raw state.4

What Do Mulberries Taste Like?

Mulberries have different tastes ranging from sugary to sour tastes. Mulberry taste can vary based on ripeness.

In this regard, an utterly ripe mulberry tastes like honey. Mulberries that are not fully ripe have a sour taste.

And yet, eating mulberries raw feels like a blast of flavors; of course, sugar is felt first, and then the acid taste. This article has dedicated much effort to examining Mulberry Trees, different types, and fruits.

However, despite the startling account of the species, the question that still lingers in the minds of any curious would be like, why are Mulberry Trees illegal despite being natural plants?

Are Mulberries edible? Yes, absolutely, as long as the fruit is consumed during the short time it is ripe.

But the fruit of the Mulberry Tree can be troublesome, which has prompted many areas to make them against the law to plant, so to check for your area, contact your local administration for specific details on why are Mulberry Trees illegal in your city or state.

Frequently Asked Questions About Why Are Mulberry Trees Illegal

Where Do Mulberry Trees Grow?

Mulberry Trees thrive in hardiness zones 4-8, so they can generally grow throughout the U.S.

How Do You Grow Mulberries?

Mulberry Trees can be purchased for planting on private property, and should be grown like any other fruit or Cherry Tree. Provide at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, and plant in well drained, moist soil.


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