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Local Wild Plant Profile: Red Mulberry


Local Wild Plant Profile: Red Mulberry

Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) is a medium to large tree, growing up to 75 feet. Red Mulberry is found in woodlands, fields, urban areas, along fence lines, and on roadsides. The trees prefer some shade.

Mulberries are found across Michigan and the ease of finding Mulberry trees makes them one of the easiest wild berries for beginners. Mulberry trees can be found throughout urban areas in Grand Rapids, both in yards and in wooded areas. They also are easy to use and are delicious raw or baked.

Identification

Mulberry trees are easy to identify in the summer by the fruits, leaves, and bark. The fruits are about 1 inch long and appear in drupes originating from a cluster of flowers:

![Mulberries Growing on a Tree in Early Summer](../../../../../uploads/2013/08/mulberry-01.jpg)
Mulberries Growing on a Tree in Early Summer
Mulberry leaves vary to some degree. They are generally 3-6 inches long with fine teeth. They can be oval shaped or have 2-3 lobes. Red Mulberry leaves tend to be shiny on the tops of the leaves and rough undersides:
![Red Mulberry Leaf Close-up](../../../../../uploads/2013/08/mulberry-02.jpg)
Red Mulberry Leaf
Mulberry bark is reddish-brown in color. It is covered in smooth ridges. The diameter of a Mulberry tree generally does not exceed 3 feet.

Here’s a close-up of Red Mulberry bark:

![Red Mulberry Bark](../../../../../uploads/2013/08/mulberry-031.jpg)
Red Mulberry Bark
Harvesting ----------
![Mulberries](../../../../../uploads/2013/08/mulberry-04.jpg)
Red Mulberries Ready to be Harvested (the dark ones)
Mulberries are easy to pick. Harvest the berries when they are dark purple to almost black in color. Under ripe mulberries are mildly toxic, so be sure to wait until they are dark and leave the lighter color ones for another day.

You can either pick each Mulberry off the tree individually or put a drop cloth underneath the tree and shake the branches. The drop cloth method greatly speeds up the process.

Mulberries can be used pretty much any way that you would use any other berries. They are great raw, in pie, in muffins, etc. They can also be dehydrated/dried and/or frozen.