Red Mullberry identification

I’ve been wanting to plant a bunch of red mulberries on my property, so I purchased some seeds and have a bunch of seedlings. I want to be sure that they are in fact red mulberry. What’s the best way to identify them based on the leaves?

Update: the most useful information I’ve found is that red Mullberry leaves have a rough texture on the top and will stick to your clothes.

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“PictureThis” identifies this as an alba. From search results the red have a very hairy underneath.

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Good luck, all the varieties have different shapes of leaves on the same tree. The only one I can tell apart is everbearing mulberry. Also hybrids might have all the characteristics of one parent, but fruit the other parent’s color.

This is the best site I found when learning of the different mulberry varieties. https://www.growingmulberry.org/identification

Seedlings and indoor grown trees are hard for me to tell. I have a mulberry that was rooted indoors and it’s leave looked very different from the one I grafted outside to a bigger rootstock.

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I’ve found that app struggles to correctly identify mulberries

Ok. It has correctly identified white mulberries that have been bird planted and red mulberries that I started from seed for me. MMV, but so far I haven’t found it to be incorrect that I can confirm.

That looks like an alba to me. Morus rubra leaves have much smaller, sharper serrations and will feel like sandpaper on the upper surface. The lower surface will be fuzzy and feel like felt.

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the furry bottoms are a good sign that it’s more rubra than alba from what I have seen. someone posted good photos of the leaves and varieties in the mulberry tree thread

here’s a link to one of the posts with photos

there’s more in that thread too.

It does feel like sandpaper on the top

so maybe it’s a hybrid then…very hard to work out.

It’s probably too soon to really tell, so these could still be rubras. If the upper surface is already rough, that’s a good sign.

Here is what I think they should look like when a bit older. This is a seedling that popped up in my yard. There are several rubras close by, so I assume these are also rubras. Upper surfaces are already very rough like sandpaper.

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That’s good to know. I have a very pure wooded property that doesn’t currently have any mulberries. I would really like to plant only reds as it seems like a unique environment where they won’t be hyberdisd. I understand that there aren’t a lot of them left.

Update: I reached out to the seller of the seeds and they said that you can tell if seeds are red Mullberry because you will see dark black powder around them. Has anyone ever heard of this?

That sounds weird. These rubra seeds sold by Oikos look just as pale as black alba seeds (comparing to my alba’s after 24+ hours of fermentation with the dark pulp).
In a bit of a detour: my fermented nigra seeds are darker but than it also stains more…

Black powder around seeds is generally mold. If it were dried pulverised pulp, it could be any of the three species.

When I was impatient to identify my seedlings due to a washed out tag, what I learned was that the morphological differences between young seedlings of alba, rubra and nigra are so slight, that you just have to be patient and wait for a few weeks longer.

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My Oscar mulberry definately has the sandpaper feel to the tops of the leaves but is missing the hairy underside of the leaves.

Think it may be a rubra/alba hybrid ? Both Whitmans farms and OGW simply call it moris alba. It is supposed to have outstanding sweet tart flavor. I think that may be rare for pure alba… do albas have sandpaper feel to the leaf tops ? Oscar definately does.


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Most people consider Oscar to be a hybrid. I’ve never grown it or seen one in person. The leaves in your pictures look more alba like, with shiny upper surface and larger rounded serrations on the leaf margins, but they are fairly large. Albas normally don’t feel like sandpaper, so that is one good clue that it’s a hybrid. I have read that Oscar also roots easily, so it may lean more toward alba.

My “Girardi” from Edible Landscaping, has leaves that feel rough like rubra when they are just approaching full size, but once they become more mature, the upper surfaces become dark green, smooth and shiny, so maturity matters. I also found some albas a couple of weeks ago in Nashville. One is a classic alba in every way, with the small shiny leaves, round fruit etc. The others are all nearly identical, except the leaves are slightly rough like sandpaper and the lower surfaces are fairly hairy. I assume they may have some rubra blood. I would still consider them albas.

The sandpaper feel on oscar leaves is very noticable and also quite directional.

It is like the leaf has these tiny spikes on the top surface and those spikes all lean towards the tip end of the leaf.

If you feel it from the tip end towards the stem end of the leaf … very noticable… going against the grain feeling.

It sounds like your seller doesn’t know the difference between Red & White Mulberry species & is incorrectly assuming an alba would have “white powder” around the seeds. Both species usually have red fruits that would leave “black powder” around the seeds when dried.


I found a Mullberry that comes up on picture this as a red Mullberry growing at the back of a parking lot. Is this actually a Red Mullberry?