To summarize for our new readers, during my first year in southeastern Pennsylvania I have learned that there are at least four varieties of mulberry trees growing domestically and semi-wild throughout the surrounding area. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that there are unique cultivars from cross-pollination, and that these varieties may be indistinguishable from common species (at least at first glance).
The four varieties I’ve read about include Red mulberry (Morus rubra), White mulberry (Morus alba), Black mulberry (Morus nigra), and Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera). They each have some distinguishing characteristics, but overall I have had limited success with telling them apart. According to The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region; Elbert L. Little, there are roughly 1400 species in the mulberry family (Moraceae) world-wide; in Eastern North America we can find five native and three naturalized species.
I can see common attributes among certain mulberries, so I know there are a few distinct varieties here at the farm. Characteristics include growth habit, over-all shape, leaf shape and texture, and preferred growing location. Still, there’s nothing definitive for me to point to which makes me confident with identification (not yet, that is).
Today’s images are of a particular species which is common around the farm (this one grows just outside the cottage, so I see it each morning). I believe this variety to be either the Black or the White mulberry.
If you have an opinion on this mulberry’s identity, or tips and tricks from your experience with identifying mulberries in your neighborhood, please do share! In the mean time, I will continue with the mulberry mystery chronicles. Sooner or later, we will find an answer.
Side note: the mulberry family Moraceae also includes the Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera).