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White Mulberry (incl. Chinese Mulberry)

Morus alba

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Chinese Mulberry, Morus alba, photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed in the Sta. Cruz Flats, Pinal Co., Arizona, USA. Nov. 2009.

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LEAVES: Deciduous, toothed leaves with shallow or no lobes. Plants growing in full sun may have very different looking leaves with five or so palmate lobes. Leaves larger than those of Texas Mulberry and less hairy.

Chinese Mulberry, Morus alba, photo © by Michael Plagens

RANGE: In the Sonoran Desert of Arizona this tree is mostly only found in urban and agricultural settings. Birds, especially Northern Mockingbirds, are fond of the berries and thereby transport the seeds in their feces. In natural areas of the Sonoran Desert, only riparian habitats have enough water to support survival of these trees. So far Chinese Mulberry has not become invasive in these situations.

TREE: A small to medium sized, monoecious tree mostly planted in yards and along fence rows. Volunteer chinese mulberries often show up below other fruit-bearing plants, having been distributed there by birds.

FLOWERS: Small, green, inconspicuous but numerous flowers around late March or early April. The male and female flowers appear on separate plants in short, catkin-like spikes. Female trees have not been widely planted because the numerous, gooey, purple berries can cover walkways. Males on the other hand release tremendous amounts of pollen into the air, aggrevating peoples allergies maing the plants subject to municipal bans in some areas.

FRUIT: As the conglomerate berry ripens it turns dark blue-black. Each small spherical element of the berry is an ovary with its own seed.


Moraceae -- Mulberry Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010