Marvelous Mulberries

Tree, Wildlife plant

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Red mulberry trees (Morus rubra) grow amongst the canopy of live oak trees (Quercus virginiana) at ORCA and are now full of fruit. The photo above, taken on May 15, shows unripe and ripening fruits. Its berries turn blue-black when ripe …

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Ripe fruit are hard to come by. Birds of all sorts, including cardinals, catbirds, crows, blue jays, and mockingbirds, seek out mulberries. So do foxes, raccoons, opossums, skunks, squirrels and other animals.

Ripe mulberries are sweet and tasty. People eat them raw or turn them into jams and jellies, pies and strudels, and even wine.

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto remarked about the prevalence of mulberry trees in Florida in the mid-1500’s. They often were found growing in association with Indian middens.

In 1929 botanical explorer John Kunkel Small wrote in his book From Eden to Sahara: Florida’s Tradgedy: “In the salt swamp are giant mulberry trees, perhaps descendants of those grown by the aborigines for their fruits and bark”.

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The underside of the leaves are somewhat soft and fuzzy. The top of the leaves, by contrast, has a rough texture …

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Adult leaves have a distinctive long drip tip, serrated leaf margins, and a broadly oval shape …

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The shape of juvenile leaves can be quite variable and often have multiple lobes …

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Red mulberry trees are deciduous and native to the eastern United States. They can be an excellent companion to live oak trees in a home landscape.

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