[NAFEX] Identifying mulberry species

Lucky Pittman lucky.pittman at murraystate.edu
Tue May 19 10:20:17 EDT 2009

I'd be more inclined to suspect that your 'unproductive' tree is 
either a male(staminate) M.alba, or perhaps an M.albaXrubra 
hybrid.  M.rubra, in my experience, has very 'rough' leaves - almost 
sandpapery, due to the hairs and their irregular surface.
M.alba - http://www.cnr.vt.edu/dendro/dendrology/Syllabus2/factsheet.cfm?ID=527
M.rubra - http://www.cnr.vt.edu/DENDRO/DENDROLOGY/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=58

Early in our orcharding endeavors, the wife ordered 4 'dwarf' 
mulberries - I now suspect that they were just row-run M.alba 
seedlings, perhaps from a 'dwarf' selection - 3 of the 4 were fairly 
small-statured fruiting females producing tiny unappetizing berries - 
even the birds didn't find them especially appealing; the fourth 
plant was a very vigorous male that quickly grew to 15 ft before I 
chainsaw-pruned it.

Broussonetia papyrifera(paper mulberry), when I've seen it - usually 
growing around old homesites, or in older parts of town - rarely 
achieves 'tree' stature - they're usually present as a thicket, 
rarely surpassing 10-12 ft in height.  I've seen photos of the fruit, 
but have never observed, in person, a fruiting female plant.
I do know some folks who've eaten the fruits - my understanding is 
that they're nothing like as tasty as a decent mulberry.


At 08:39 AM 5/19/2009, you wrote:
>I have several wild White Mulberries, and one similar, unproductive 
>tree.  The mystery tree has slightly hairier leaves, but the growth 
>habit, leaf structure, and bark are identical to the other 
>trees.  This could indicate that it is a native red mulberry, but if 
>that was the case I would expect it to produce berries like the 
>other trees, since red and white mulberries can cross- pollinate.
>Is it possible that it is a Paper Mulberry?  Do they look exactly 
>like White Mulberries except for the berries and the leaf 
>hairs?  Paper mulberries are dioecious, so it could be a male tree, 
>which would explain the unproductivity.
>Finally, are paper mulberries good to eat?  The tree does a good job 
>preventing erosion, I would consider getting a female paper mulberry 
>if they are worth growing.
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