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Natural Highlights: Red Mulberry

  

One of the 10 native tree species planted during our recent Annual Tree Planting event was the Red Mulberry (Morus rubra), a medium-sized understory tree with large variably shaped leaves, which produces a sweet fruit resembling a blackberry valued by wildlife and people alike.  Native Americans made extensive use of mulberries in their cooking, and many mammals and birds seek out mulberries as well.  The Red Mulberry is also a larval host plant for the Mourning Cloak Butterfly.

The very similar White Mulberry, an Asian species brought over long ago in hopes of starting a homegrown silk industry, can be difficult to distinguish from the Red Mulberry.  The leaves of Red Mulberry tend to have fine hairs along the veins on the underside and to feel rough to the touch on top.  White Mulberry leaves, by contrast, are smooth on both sides.  Also, as the name suggests, White Mulberry fruits are usually white, whereas those of Red Mulberry start out green, then turn red, then almost black.  Please see below for an thorough guide to telling the two species apart.

Red vs. White Mulberry:   https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/FNR/FNR_237.pdf

https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/red-mulberry

https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=moru2

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c125

 

Posted by Cathy Justis at 6:54 PM