The mulberry tree (Morus spp.) has several specific varieties. The white mulberry is native to China and the black mulberry is native to western Asia, while the red or American mulberry is native to the eastern United States. All mulberry trees produce berry-like clusters of edible fruit that resemble larger loganberries. The white mulberry tree can reach 80 feet in height, while the black mulberry grows to only 30 feet. Identifying mulberry trees by their leaves can be difficult, because their leaves are perhaps the least-unique part of the tree. Purchase a tree species guidebook from your local cooperative extension service or borrow one from your local library to help you identify mulberry tree leaves.
Identify mulberry leaves by their glossy, light-green color. White mulberries have thin leaves, while the red mulberry’s leaves are slightly thicker. Mulberry leaves are up to 5 inches wide and 7 inches long, with black mulberry leaves being slightly smaller.
Spot a mulberry leaf by its overall shape. The mulberry leaf is heart-shaped, and the tops of the leaves are slightly rough in texture. The red mulberry leaf has saw-tooth-like edges.
Identify mulberry leaves by the time of year that the leaves emerge. White mulberries leaf out in early spring, red mulberries leaf in mid-spring and black mulberries leaf in late spring to early summer.
Look for lobed leaves to determine whether they belong to the mulberry tree. White, red and black mulberry trees have lobed leaves, but the white mulberry’s leaves have a wide variety of lobe patterns, even on the same tree, with some leaves that may not be lobed at all.
Identify the white mulberry tree by its distinctly white buds. The red and black mulberry trees are so named for the color of their fruits, however, instead of their buds.
Things You Will Need
- Tree species guidebook
- You can tell the black mulberry apart from the white or red mulberry by looking at its buds. The black mulberry's buds are fatter and darker, even though the leaves are smaller.
- Don't eat any fruits or berries growing on a tree or bush if you're unsure about its exact species. Many wild berries can be poisonous.
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