Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Morus rubra


SPECIES: Morus rubra
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1993. Morus rubra. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : MORRUB SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : MORU COMMON NAMES : red mulberry mulberry moral TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for red mulberry is Morus rubra L. [9,20]. A geographic strain known as the Lampasas mulberry occurs in Texas [32]. Accepted varieties include the following: Morus rubra var. rubra Morus rubra var. tomentosa (Raf) Bur. (woolly red mulberry) [37]. Red mulberry hybridizes with white mulberry (M. alba), an exotic species which has naturalized in the eastern United States [19]. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : Red mulberry is listed as threatened in Ontario [38].


SPECIES: Morus rubra
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : The native range of red mulberry extends from Massachussetts and southern Vermont west through the southern half of New York to extreme southwestern Ontario, southern Michigan, central Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota; south to Iowa, southeastern Nebraska, central Kansas, western Oklahoma, and central Texas; and east to southern Florida [19,20]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood FRES18 Maple - beech - birch STATES : AL AR CT DE FL GA IL IN IA KS KY LA MD MA MI MN MS MO NE NJ NY NC OH OK PA RI SC TN TX VT VA WV WI BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 14 Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100 K083 Cedar glades K084 Cross Timbers K092 Everglades K098 Northern floodplain forest K099 Maple - basswood forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K101 Elm - ash forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest SAF COVER TYPES : 39 Black ash - American elm - red maple 40 Post oak - blackjack oak 42 Bur oak 46 Eastern redcedar 57 Yellow-poplar 62 Silver maple - American elm 63 Cottonwood 75 Shortleaf pine 76 Shortleaf pine - oak 78 Virginia pine - oak 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 87 Sweet gum - yellow-poplar 89 Live oak 91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak 93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash 105 Tropical hardwoods 108 Red maple SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Red mulberry usually occurs as scattered individuals in floodplain or cove forests, where it is often an understory tree [19]. The most common tree associates of red mulberry not previously mentioned include American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and in southern part of its range, silver maple (Acer saccharinum). In the northern areas associates include boxelder (A. negundo) and white ash (Fraxinus americana) [19]. Associated understory species include roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii), flowering dogwood (C. florida), swamp-privet (Forestiera acuminata), Nuttall oak (Quercus nuttallii), hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), and possumhaw (Ilex decidua). Associated herbs include pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), eastern poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), and greenbriers (Smilax spp.) [19].


SPECIES: Morus rubra
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Red mulberry wood is light, soft, weak, close-grained, and durable [37]. It is of little commercial importance. Current and past uses include fenceposts, farm implements, cooperage, furniture, interior finish, and caskets [19,37]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Many species of birds and small mammals eat the fruits of red mulberry [19]. Bird consumers include wood ducks [1], bluebirds, indigo buntings, gray catbirds, eastern kingbirds, towhees, orchard orioles, brown thrashers, summer tanagers, vireos, red-cockaded woodpeckers [13], red-bellied woodpeckers, great crested flycatchers [11], and Lewis' woodpeckers [16]. Other consumers include opossums, raccoons, fox squirrels, and gray squirrels [19]. The twigs and foliage are browsed by white-tailed deer. Beavers consume red mulberry bark [13]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Each red mulberry fruit contains a number of seeds. The energy value of the seeds of red mulberry averages 1,242.60 Joules per fruit. The average energy value of the fleshy part of red mulberry fruits is reported as 2,043.88 Joules per fruit [33]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Red mulberry is not noted as a soil stabilizer due to its shallow roots [19]. However, mine sites that have been reclaimed (usually planted to grasses and herbaceous perennials) are occasionally colonized by red mulberry. It may become dominant on these sites. Red mulberry colonization on unreclaimed mine sites has not been reported [12]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Red mulberry is planted for its fruit and as an ornamental [37]. The fruit is used to make jams, jellies, pies, and beverages. The fruits have also been used as feed for hogs and chickens [19]. Native Americans used the fibrous bark to make cloth [37]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Red mulberry is becoming increasingly scarce in the central portions of its range, possibly due to a bacterial disease [19]. Red mulberry is occasionally present in the hardwood understory of pine-hardwood stands in the Gulf Coastal Plain. If management goals include reduction of hardwood competition, then red mulberry may be one of the species that needs to be controlled [31]. Stem injection of red mulberry trees with 2,4-D plus picloram and with glyphosate results in 100 percent topkill [22]. Leaf pathogens include Cercospora, Mycosphaerella mori, and Pseudomonas mori, all of which cause leaf spots. Red mulberry is also susceptible to witches broom (Microstoma juglandis) [19]. Insects feeding on red mulberry leaves include the European fruit lecanium, Comstoch mealy bug, and cottony maple scale. Twigs and stems are attacked by the American plum borer and the mulberry borer [19]. Root-knot nematodes sometimes attack the roots of seedlings and older trees [37]. Red mulberry is rated moderately tolerant of flooding; it will withstand inundation for a complete growing season, but is killed by inundation over two growing seasons [19].


SPECIES: Morus rubra
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Red mulberry is a native, deciduous, small tree with a spreading, rounded crown [6,10,19,37]. Mature height usually ranges from 15 to 70 feet (5-21 m) [19]. The bark is dark and scaly [9], divided into irregular, elongate plates, and is 0.5 to 0.75 inches (1.2-1.9 cm) thick [37]. The inner bark is tough and fibrous [6]. The roots are shallow [36]. The national champion red mulberry reported from Michigan in 1981 is 72 feet (21.9 m) tall, 18.75 feet (5.7 m) in circumference, and has a 98-foot (29.8-m) crown spread [10]. Red mulberry usually lives 125 years or less [36]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Red mulberry is usually dioecious but can be monoecious. The youngest seed-bearing age is usually around 10 years, but plants as young as 4 years have been reported to bear seed. Optimum seed-bearing ages are between 30 and 85 years, and the maximum age for seed production is 125 years. Good seed crops are produced every 2 to 3 years. Mature fruits fall near the tree, but most are consumed before becoming fully mature. The seeds are dispersed by frugivores, mostly birds, after passing through their digestive tracts. Seeds are either sown in fall without stratification or in spring after 30 to 90 days at 33 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (1-5 deg C) in moist sand [19]. Vegetative reproduction: Red mulberry sprouts from the roots, and is reported to be artificially propagated by stem cuttings, budding, or layering [19]. Baca and others [2], however, were unable to get red mulberry stem cuttings to form roots. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Red mulberry grows well under a wide variety of conditions. In the southern portion of its range, best growth occurs on moist, well-drained soils of coves and floodplains [19]. Red mulberry grows on a variety of soils including clays, sands, and loams [31]. It tolerates a wide range of soil pH [31]. It is often found in pastures and on field borders [19]. Rothenberger [29] reported that in eastern Nebraska red mulberry is codominant in frequently flooded riverbottom forests, important in the well-drained soils of the transitional forests upslope from the riverbottom, and minor in the drier upland terrace forests. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Red mulberry is found in both mid-successional and climax forests. In old fields in Illinois germination peaks occurred at high temperature/moderate moisture and moderate temperature/high moisture conditions. Germination was highest in soils with intermediate levels of organic matter. Seedling emergence was negatively associated with irradiance and poisitively associated with litter cover [5]. In Mississippi red mulberry seedlings establish in reforested bottomland old fields [23]. It is also found in reforested (83-year-old and 110-year-old) old fields in North Carolina. It is not always an early colonizer of old fields [4]. In north-central Texas red mulberry occurs in undisturbed winged elm (Ulmus alata)-post oak (Quercus stellata)-Shumard oak (Q. shumardii) stands, but not in successional stands [24]. A study of oldfield succession in Ohio found that red mulberry was present in 90-year-old stands but not in younger stands. The authors reported only one red mulberry seed germinating from soil samples taken from a 200-year-old stand [28]. Burton and Bazzaz [5] suggested that based on average emergence across a range of seral habitats, red mulberry is less successful in colonizing old fields than honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos), red maple, ashes (Fraxinus spp.), hawthorns (Crataegus spp.), and black cherry (Prunus serotina). Red mulberry grows best in the open, but is somewhat tolerant of shade [19]. In old-growth, mesic forests, red mulberry is found in mid-sized gaps (666 square yards [550 sq m]) more often than in small or large gaps [30]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Red mulberry catkins appear in April and May. Fruits mature from June to August and fall from the tree when fully ripe [19].


SPECIES: Morus rubra
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Red mulberry is apparently excluded from certain forest communities by periodic fire [18]. In Oklahoma red mulberry is reported as a minor component of post oak-blackjack oak forests that have developed from post oak savanna in the absence of fire. Red mulberry was not listed as a member of the savanna community, which has experienced periodic fire [14]. In Florida, a pine (Pinus spp.)-red oak (Quercus rubra)-hickory (Carya spp.) community is maintained in open condition by periodic fire. This community succeeds to red oak, other fire-intolerant hardwoods, and red mulberry when fire is excluded. In these forests red mulberry is often found in very old, seldom-burned stands [18]. In Kansas, chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)-bur oak (Q. macrocarpa) gallery forests are maintained by periodic fire. Shade tolerant trees including red mulberry have established where fire is suppressed. Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) and elms will eventually replace the oaks if current conditions continue. Red mulberry will probably remain a minor component of the fire-free forests [27]. Red mulberrybye colonizes postfire stands when moisture conditions are favorable [25]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Morus rubra
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Red mulberry is probably easily killed by fire due to its thin bark and shallow roots. Information on the relationship of the intensity of fire to red mulberry mortality is lacking in the available literature. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : In Missouri a late spring wildfire occurred in 1966 in a fully stocked, 23-year-old stand of white oak, red oak, and hickory. The stand had developed following a 1943 fire. The 1966 fire top-killed almost all trees, but left a few survivors (both from the 23-year age class and survivors of the earlier fire). Small red mulberry plants occurred in low numbers prior to the 1966 fire (17 stems per acre [42 stems/ha]), but increased to 120 stems per acre (302 stems/ha) 10 growing seasons after the fire [21]. In North Carolina red mulberry did not occur in unburned loblolly pine-shortleaf pine stands. Nine growing seasons after surface or crown fires, however, it was present in low densities [25]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Reduction of hardwood competition (including red mulberry) in pine stands can be accomplished through prescribed fires [31].


SPECIES: Morus rubra
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