Tree Killers: White Mulberry


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Name

  • Common English name: White Mulberry
  • Other names:
  • Latin (scientific) name: Morus alba

Threat type

150x150 plants

History in Canada

  • introduced to North America in the late-1800’s from Asia for its edible fruit and to provide leaves for the silkworm industry
  • occurs in southern Ontario
  • available from nurseries

Biology

  • a small tree growing to 15 metres (50 ft) in height
  • belongs to the Mulberry family
  • leaves are oval-shaped and often have deep lobes (making them look mitten- or glove-shaped)
  • undersides of the leaves have whitish hairs on the veins
  • produces berry-like fruits that may be white, pink, purple, or nearly black
  • birds eat the berries and may be responsible for much of the spread of White Mulberry since the seeds within the fruit pass through the bird without damage

Impact on Trees

  • closely related to the native, endangered Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) whose only Canadian occurrence is southern Ontario
  • at most Ontario locations of Red Mulberry, White Mulberry is hybridizing with the native tree
  • such hybridization could eliminate the endangered Red Mulberry by ‘genetic swamping’

What can be done to control this tree killer?

  • cutting trunks followed by herbicide application to the cut trunks
  • herbicide application to the entire tree if small
  • several years of control may be needed since the seeds are unaffected by the above methods and seedlings can recolonize an area

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