White Mulberry

Morus alba L.



All photographs are copyrighted and are the property of E. Brunner.

Family:  Moraceae

Native or Introduced to Illinois:  introduced

Leaf:  Leaves  are alternate, simple, lobed with pointed tips.  The rounded or somewhat heart-shaped leaves vary greatly in outline from unlobed  to lobed or mitten-shaped.  The upper leaf surface is rough to the touch.  The lower surface is soft and covered with short hairs.    Leaf margins are coarsely toothed.

Flower:  The flowers are small, greenish, crowded in clusters, and hanging in catkins. 

Fruit:  The fruit is blackberry like, typically white but sometimes pinkish violet, insipid and so plentiful it litters lawns and pavements

Bark:  The bark is light brown to gray and smooth, becoming divided into narrow scaly ridges.

Size/Form/Shape:  White mulberry is an introduced, small to medium sized shrub or tree.

Other:  Ethnobotanic: The fruits may be eaten cooked or raw and are made into jellies, jams, pies and is added to bread, cookies, or puddings.  The fruit is also an ingredient in mulberry wine and is used as a raisin substitute.  The inner bark was roasted and grounded into a meal and then used as a thickener in soups or mixed with cereals when making bread.  The young shoots were used as a tea substitute

 Economic: White mulberry was introduced along the Atlantic seaboard during colonial times when an attempt was made to establish the silkworm industry in this country.  A fiber was obtained from the bark and used in weaving.  A brown dye can be obtained from the trunk.

The wood is valued for sporting goods due to its durability, flexibility, and elasticity.  It is used mainly for tennis and badminton rackets, hockey sticks, furniture, agricultural implements, and house and boat building materials.  The stem is fibrous and is used in Europe and China for making paper.

Medicinal: The leaves are taken internally in the treatment of sore throats, colds, eye infections, and nose bleeds.  The stems are used in the treatment of spasms, rheumatic pains, and high blood pressure.  The fruit is used in the treatment of urinary incontinence, dizziness, diabetes, pre-maturing gray hair, and constipation in the elderly.

Wildlife: White mulberry leaves are eaten as a vegetable and are useful as a cattle fodder.  Wild birds, hogs, and poultry eat the mulberry fruit.

Agroforestry: White mulberry is used in tree strips for windbreaks.  They are planted and managed to protect livestock, enhance production, and control soil erosion.  Windbreaks can help communities with harsh winter conditions better handle the impact of winter storms and reduce home heating costs during the winter months.

County Distribution Map for Illinois:  


Sources for the Sullivan Middle School Tree Identification Guide were obtained though the use of the following sites: