En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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, possibly Datura
September 07, 2007 - I have a wide green-leafed plant that has white flowers. This plant also has some thorny fruits in the shape of mines that float on the ocean. At the moment it is 2 feet high. I'm beginning to wo...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub/small tree with small purple fruit
July 31, 2013 - Hi! I have a tree/bush that has come up on its own in the backyard. This year it set what looks like small purple plums. Is there any chance that they might be poisonous?
view the full question and answer

Control of Smilax bona-nox (saw greenbrier)
June 15, 2007 - We have some property near Round Mountain, Texas. Under and in the oak trees is a vine that has a heart-shaped, shiny leaf and nasty thorns. I'd like to know the name and how best to try to get rid...
view the full question and answer

Backward blooming Jack-in-the-pulpit
April 18, 2008 - why does my jack in the pulpit plant bloom backwards
view the full question and answer

Questions about lilies from Trussville AL
January 10, 2012 - How can I tell what kind of lily I have? Or better yet,what is the difference between Asiatic lily and a daylily? I also noticed someone asked about Cahaba lily. Just want to let you know I grow Caha...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center