Morus alba (MORACEAE) Mulberry

Weeds to Whack

The mulberry tree, native to western Asia, has long been a Brisbane favourite in gardens for its fruit (pleasant tasting but often infested with fruit fly maggots when over-ripe) and its leaves (food plant for the silk-producing caterpillar). Weed risk extreme due to its tendency to cause erosion and its resistance to control. It has escaped into the creek systems where it creates very bad erosion due its open root structure, which can survive above ground. Medium-sized tree to 10 m sometimes much larger. Very long lived and exceptionally hardy, especially on creekbanks where it can resist attempts to kill it year after year.

Photo: Matt Tomkins

Young Foliage With Fruit Forming

The growth is very fast in spring and summer, with lighter green growth and fruit. Birds distribute the seeds. Dark purple to black drupes in early summer. Unripe fruits slightly toxic. Silkworm Bombyx mori caterpillars feed on the leaves of the mulberries. The caterpillars were originally tamed in China, and are now so domesticated that they cannot even hang onto the leaves of their food plant, but have to be kept in cages and have food leaves given to them.

Photo: Mark Crocker