Red mulberry is the only mulberry that you will commonly find in the wild in some areas. The red mulberry is a small tree, rarely 50 feet high and 2 feet in diameter, often found growing in the shade of larger trees. This tree is quite urban-tolerant. Mulberries are deciduous trees with scaly buds and terminal buds are absent. The trunk is short and the crown round-topped and dense. The bark is thin, dark grayish brown, peeling off in long, narrow flakes. The buds are imbricate and 1/8-1/4″ long, and the stems exude milky sap when it is cut.
The Morus Rubra leaves are alternate, rounded or somewhat heart-shaped. They are usually undivided with coarsely toothed margins. The foliage is 3 – 5 in (71/2 13 cm) long, hairy and soft on both sides. The leaves of the Red Mulberry are the best way to recognize this species. As the main veins approach the margin of the leaf, they loop around until they are parallel to the margin. Red mulberry is also one of the few trees with leaves that can be mitten-shaped with a single lobe “thumb” on one side, but this is not a good way to identify this tree, because some of them have few or no mitten-shape leaves. Milky juice can be squeezed from the stem of a fresh mulberry leaf.
Red mulberry is dioecious but can be monoecious, with male and female flowers on different branches of the same plants. Both male and female flowers are stalked axillary pendulous catkins and appear in April and May. The female catkins are shorter and appear with the leaves. The flowers are small and greenish.
Each fruit is composed of many small drupelets which develop from separate female flowers ripening together in July and August. The fruits are a single-seeded achene, aggregated into a fleshy fruit that resembles a blackberry. They will change from red to black as they ripen. The fruit is sweet and edible and greatly relished by humans, birds and various animals, and they can be substituted for blac