Red Mulberry (Rubra)

The Red Mulberry (Rubra) is generally described as a perennial tree. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the early spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Red Mulberry (Rubra) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Red Mulberry (Rubra) will reach up to 70 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 45 feet.

The Red Mulberry (Rubra) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, cuttings, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have high vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -33°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: Red mulberry was used by several Native American tribes to treat a variety of ailments. The sap was used to treat ringworm (Foster and Duke 2000). The Cherokee made a tea from the leaves of the plant for treatment of dysentery, weakness, and difficulty urinating (Hamel and Chiltoskey 1975). The Comanche used the fruit of the red mulberry as a food source (Carlson and Jones 1940, Moerman 1998).

General Characteristics

General: Mulberry Family (Moraceae). Red mulberry is a tree that can reach 20 m in height and 45 cm in diameter. Red mulberry has a short trunk and stout, spreading branches that form a round-topped crown. The bark can be smooth or scaly and is dark brown in color. The branchlets are covered with short hairs. The leaves are simple, alternate, and up to 2 dm long. The leaves are broad, egg-shaped, and lobed. The base of the leaf is square, as if it has been cut off abruptly. The tip of the leaf is pointed. The leaves have sharply serrated margins. The upper leaf surface is rough to the touch. The lower surface is soft and covered with short hairs. The petioles are 2 to 3 cm long and produce a milky fluid when broken. The catkins that bear stamens are 2 to 5 cm long. The catkins that bear pistils are 2 to 2.5 cm long. Red mulberry has aggregate fruits that are 2 to 3 cm long. The fruits are juicy and have a dark purple color.

Required Growing Conditions

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Habitat: Red mulberry is found in floodplains, river valleys, and moist hillsides.

Adaptation Red mulberry is fire intolerant. However, it colonizes post-fire sites when sufficient moisture is available.

General Upkeep and Control

MURI2"Once established, deergrass is quite drought-tolerant. To maintain its vigor and reduce accumulated dead material, deergrass can be mowed or burned every several years. Burning or mowing should be in the fall, after it has gone to seed. Many tribes historically and probably prehistorically enhanced deergrass populations through firing deergrass stands in the fall in California every two to five years. Indian-set fires increased flower stalk yields, recycled nutrients, cleared away detritus, and promoted seedling production in the midst of reduced competition from other plants. According to Native American elders, these fires maintained the bunchgrass in greater numbers than would have occurred under natural conditions. Knowledge of past indigenous fire management of deergrass has important implications for mountain meadow habitat management for wildlife and maintenance of grassland openings within shrublands, woodlands, and forests for preservation of indigenous cultural traditions. Some areas could be managed with the dual objectives of indigenous harvesting of flower stalks and grazing after culm harvest. There are several fungi that infect the leaves of deergrass, causing debilitation, but usually not death. A fire would eliminate these pathogens. "

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Tree
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Early Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Single Stem
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Tolerant
Height When Mature 70
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Green
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Summer
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Cuttings, Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -33
Soil Depth for Roots 24
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing Yes
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5–7 pH
Precipitation Range 35–35 inches/yr
Planting Density 170–600 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 24
Minimum Frost-Free Days 140 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA