En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Verifying safety of berries on a red mulberry tree in Austin

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

Smarty Plants on forbs
October 16, 2005 - What kind of plant is a forb? I see the term used frequently in reference to grasses (I think), but I can't figure out exactly what a forb is.
view the full question and answer

How can I distinguish Hibiscus laevis from Pavonia braziliensis in New Braunfels, TX?
September 12, 2011 - How can I distinguish Hibiscus laevis (Halberdleaf Hibiscus) from Pavonia braziliensis (Brazillian Rock Rose)? Earlier this year I was given the former by a friend and former NPSOT chap...
view the full question and answer

Identity of small "Pitcher" plants growing in backyard
July 25, 2013 - I have small pitcher plants growing in the grass in my backyard. Looks like very dark cobra. Come every summer when very hot. They are about 4 or 5 inches from base to tip of hood. I have a pic. le...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub with red berries in Kentucky
January 14, 2012 - I live in Laurel CO, KY. I am trying to identify a shrub/tree. The leaves are green and may turn reddish orange. There are huge pods of red berries hanging.
view the full question and answer

Why is Mentzelia oligosperma called
July 15, 2014 - Could you tell me why Mentzelia oligosperma is sometimes called chickenthief?
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