En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Wednesday - May 06, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Verifying safety of berries on a red mulberry tree in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I think I have a red mulberry tree on a newly purchased property. The property sits on Lake Austin and the tree is at least 40 feet tall with red fruits about an inch long that look like skinny blackberries. How do I verify that these are mulberries before eating them? Are there any potentially poisonous berries that look similar?

ANSWER:

We mulled for a couple days on how to search for a potentially poisonous berry that might look like a mulberry. Without knowing what you actually have, it's kind of hard to do that. This USDA Plant Profile county map shows that Morus rubra (red mulberry) does grow in Central Texas.

We are going to give you several pictures and descriptive information on the Morus rubra (red mulberry). Follow the plant link and read the description in our Native Plant Database. Also, note that unripe fruit and the milky sap from all parts of the tree have low toxicity if eaten. If you still can't decide if your tree is a red mulberry, go to our Plant Identification site for instructions on how to send us a picture. Until it has been identified, we would advise not trying to eat the fruit from it. More websites with information:

Virginia Tech Department of Forestry red mulberry

Vanderbilt University Morus rubra

About.com: Forestry How to Manage and Identify Mulberry - this site mentions that the red mulberry frequently interbreeds with the white mulberry, which is native to China. The site also warns that the berries are favorite foods of birds and squirrels, and that the tree is messy.

Pictures from our  Gallery section of the Native Plant Database:


Morus rubra

Morus rubra

 

 

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification for shrub in Florida
September 03, 2011 - On our street we have ornamental shrub planted in the median that has small waxy green leaves, produces small fragrant white flowers, and red berries with white pulp and small seeds on the inside. Th...
view the full question and answer

Information about a red-flowered Pavonia lasiopetala in central TX.
September 07, 2010 - I have grown Pavonia for years and just let it re-seed where it wants (and remove if I don't want it where it falls). This year I created a new 6 inch raised bed amended with compost and some manure...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant with white spike blooms and red berries
July 06, 2014 - I just came back from a hike in Dallas and found large areas where a lanceolate- to acuminate- leafed herb was blooming spikes of white, 4 petal flowers that quickly turn to bright red berries, someti...
view the full question and answer

Identification of a shrub in San Marcos, TX
May 20, 2013 - On a walk in Austin's Barton Creek greenbelt, a Treefolks volunteer identified a shrub that I also have on my property in San Marcos as blue candalia. However I can't find a plant by that name via w...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant purchased as desert willow
February 29, 2008 - Purchased a plant at Chappel Hill, Texas and was told it was a desert willow. The bloom cluster and pink color are very similar, but leaves resemble the wisteria. Very pretty. What is it? Can it be r...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center