Morus rubra

Morus rubra

The red mulberry (Morus rubra) is a species of mulberry native to eastern North America, from southernmost Ontario and Vermont south to southern Florida and west to southeast South Dakota and central Texas. Although red mulberry is common in the United States, it is listed as an endangered species in Canada, .

It is a deciduous tree, growing to 10-15 m tall, rarely 20 m, with a trunk up to 50 cm diameter. The leaves are alternate, 7-14 cm long and 6-12 cm broad, simple, broadly cordate, with a shallow notch at the base, typically unlobed on mature trees although often with 2-3 lobes, particularly on young trees, and with a finely serrated margin. The upper surface of the leaves is noticeably rough, similar in texture to fine sandpaper, and unlike the lusterous upper surface of the leaves of white mulberry. The underside of the leaves is covered with soft hairs.

The flowers are relatively inconspicuous: small, yellowish green or reddish green, and opening as leaves emerge. Male and female flowers are usually on separate trees although they may occur on the same tree.

The fruit is a compound cluster of several small drupes, similar in appearance to a blackberry, 2-3 cm long, red ripening dark purple, edible and very sweet with a good flavor.

Status

The species is threatened by extensive hybridization with the invasive white mulberry, introduced from Asia.

Uses

This tree is commonly used as a scratching post for bears and a mating zone for mosquitos commonly found in South America.

References

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