Morus–commonly called mulberry–is a fast-growing deciduous shade and fruiting tree. Morus grow to as much as 50 feet (15m) tall and wide. Trees have a rounded form. Dark green leaves turn yellow in autumn.
For creating shade in home gardens or along walkways, drives, and streets, plant fruitless forms of Morus alba. Fruiting forms will drop fruit which can be messy and stain walkways.
The best species for edible fruit often used to make jam and wine are M. nigra and M. rubra. Fruits look like miniature blackberries and are favored by birds.
Morus is a genus of 10 species of upright, rounded deciduous trees native to woodlands in Africa, Asia, and North and South America. The leaves of several species are used to feed silkworms.
Get to Know Morus
- Plant type: Deciduous shrubs and trees
- Growing zones and range: Zones 5 to 9
- Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 5
- Height and width: To 40 feet (12m) tall and 50 feet (15m) wide
- Growth rate: Fast
- Form and habit: Upright, rounded
- Foliage: Alternate, 3-5 inch (8-13cm), ovate to rounded, toothed leaves, often lobed and heart-shaped at the bases, are light to dark green
- Flowers: Tiny, .5 inch (1.3cm), cup-shaped, pale green male and female flowers are borne in separate catkins on the same plant
- Fruits: Each female flower cluster develops into a single, spherical to oblong, edible, raspberry-like fruit, but are too fragile to be marketable
- Bloom time: Late spring and early summer
- Uses: Specimen tree, seaside gardens, shade
- Garden companions:
- Common name: Mulberry
- Botanical name: Morus
- Family name: Moraceae
- Origin: Africa, Asia, and North and South America
Where to Plant Morus
- Plant Morus in full sun or light shade.
- Plant Morus in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil.
- Morus tolerates heat, drought, road salt, and seashore conditions, but provide shelter from cold, drying winds.
When to Plant Morus
- Set container-grown Morus in the garden in spring or autumn.
- Sow Morus seed in containers outdoors in autumn.
Planting and Spacing Morus
- Plant Morus 50 feet (15m) apart.
How to Water and Feed Morus
- Give Morus regular water.
- Feed Morus with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring.
How to Care for Morus
- Prune Morus in late autumn or early winter, since trees bleed at other times.
- Their branches tend to bend down as they become long, so it is often necessary to remove some of the lower ones every few years.
Morus Pests and Diseases
- Morus are susceptible to attacks by borers, scale insects, and mealybugs.
- Bacterial leaf scorch, coral spot, powdery mildew, butt rot, canker, Southern blight, and root rot can also be a problem.
- Morus are susceptible to storm damage.
- Root semi-ripe Morus cuttings in summer.
- Root hardwood cuttings in a prepared bed in a cold frame in autumn; thick pieces of 2- to 4-year-old wood, known as “truncheons,” will also root if treated as hardwood cuttings.
- Bud cultivars in summer.
Morus Varieties to Grow
- Morus alba, White mulberry, spreading tree with ovate to heart-shaped, sometimes lobed, glossy, bright green leaves, to 8 inches (20cm) long, turning yellow in autumn. Ovoid, insipid-tasting white fruit, to 1 inch (2.5cm) long, ripening to pink and red, are borne in late summer. To 30 feet (10m) tall. China.
- M. nigra, Black mulberry, rounded tree with ovate to heart-shaped, often doubly toothed, mid-green leaves, to 6 inches (15cm) long, rough-textured above. Ovoid, green fruit, to 1 inch (2.5cm) long, turn red then dark purple in summer, and have a pleasant, slightly acidic flavor. To 40 feet (12m) tall and 50 feet (15m) wide. Origin probably southwest Asia.
- M. rubra, Red mulberry, rounded tree with broadly ovate, sometimes lobed leaves, usually to 5 inches (13cm) long but sometimes more, with heart-shaped bases and abruptly pointed tips; they are dark green, turning yellow in autumn. Cylindrical, sweet-tasting fruit, to 1.25 inch (3cm) long, ripen to dark purple in late summer. To 40 feet (12m) tall and 50 feet (15m) wide. Southeast Canada, eastern United States.