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 ID in Springfield OR
July 08, 2009 - I recently discovered a wildflower closely resembling the Oregon Lady Slipper, apparently a wild orchid, but with many blooms on a single long stem and with no apparent leaves. I'd like more informat...
view the full question and answer

Is Texas Mountain Laurel what I planted in Magnolia TX?
March 21, 2010 - I think I planted Texas Mt. Laurels and need to see a pic of early plants. Can you help?
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant growing in Plumbago
August 01, 2007 - Help - I have a strange looking plant that recently shot up in a potted Plumbago. I planted the Plumbago in its pot with Miracle Gro potting soil, and have been fertilizing with Miracle Gro as well. ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 24, 2010 - Purchased foliage plant - no one knows its name. Leaves (stems) are bright green and 10" tall. Has "babies" like a spider plant but leaves (stems) are wider and thicker. Has a "rib" to them in...
view the full question and answer

Possible identification of Hydrocotyle bonariensis
July 01, 2007 - I went to Pedra Island two years ago I saw a plant that grew around the beach. It has a perfectly round leaf that has the stem in the middle of the back side of the leaf. It has small yellow flowers. ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center