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Morus rubra


Morus rubra, commonly known as the red mulberry, is a species of mulberry native to eastern and central North America. It is found from Ontario, Minnesota, and Vermont south to southern Florida, and west as far as southeastern South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and central Texas. There have been reports of isolated populations (very likely naturalized) in New Mexico, Idaho, and British Columbia.<ref>Template:BONAP</ref>

Common in the United States, it is listed as an endangered species in Canada,<ref name=fna>Template:EFloras</ref><ref name=ambrose>Ambrose, J. D., & Kirk, D. (2004). National Recovery Strategy for Red Mulberry (Morus rubra L.). Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Guelph, Ontario, Canada</ref> and is susceptible to hybridization with the invasive white mulberry (M. alba), introduced from Asia.<ref name=burgess>Template:Cite journalTemplate:Dead link</ref>


Red mulberry is a deciduous tree, growing to Template:Cvt tall, rarely Template:Cvt, with a trunk up to Template:Cvt in diameter. It is a small to medium-sized<ref>https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_PLANTMATERIALS/publications/lapmcbr7910.pdf</ref> tree that reaches a height of 70 feet and lives up to 125 years. The leaves are alternate, Template:Cvt long (rarely to Template:Cvt) and Template:Cvt broad,<ref name="fna" /> simple, broadly cordate, with a shallow notch at the base, typically unlobed on mature trees although often with 2-3 lobes, particularly on young trees, and with a finely serrated margin.<ref name=fna /> The upper surface of the leaves is noticeably rough, similar in texture to fine sandpaper, and unlike the lustrous upper surface of the leaves of white mulberry (M. alba).<ref>Farrar, J.L. (1995). Trees in Canada. Fitzhenry and Whiteside/Canadian Forest Service, Markham, Ontario.</ref> The underside of the leaves is covered with soft hairs. The leaf petiole exudes milky sap when severed.<ref>Trees of Alabama and the Southeast: Red Mulberry, Morus rubra, Moraceae.</ref> Red mulberry is hardy to subzero temperatures, relatively hardy to drought, pollution, and poor soil, though the white mulberry is hardier.<ref>California Rare Fruit Growers</ref>

The flowers are relatively inconspicuous: small, yellowish green or reddish green and opening as leaves emerge. Male and female flowers are usually on separate trees although they may occur on the same tree.

The fruit is a compound cluster of several small achenes surrounded by a fleshy calyx, similar in appearance to a blackberry, Template:Cvt long. It is initially pale green, ripening to red or dark purple, edible and very sweet with a good flavor.<ref name=fna />

Fruits widely sought after by birds in spring and early summer in North America; as many as 31 species of birds recorded visiting a fruiting tree in Arkansas <ref>Jackson, J. L. and R. Kannan. 2018. Avian frugivory in a fruiting mulberry tree (Morus rubra) in Arkansas. J. Arkansas Acad. Sci. 72:38-46</ref>


The first English colonists to explore eastern Virginia in 1607 mentioned the abundance of both mulberry trees and their fruit, which was eaten, sometimes boiled, by the native Powhatan tribes.

Today, mulberries are eaten raw, used in fruit pastries, and fermented into wine.

The wood may be dried and used for smoking meats with a flavor that is mild and sweet.

There are also references citing that pre-colonial cherokee tribes used the soft, inner wood fibers to weave a fabric as fine as european linen.



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