Morus alba L., (white mulberry), Morus nigra (Black mulberry) Morus rubra L. (red mulberry,
American mulberry) (Moraceae)
Acres in Washington: less than 25
Growers in Washington: less than 15
Percent of U.S. Production: less than 1%
Mulberry plants are large trees that can grow up to 40-60 feet in height. All three
mulberry species are deciduous. Commercial mulberry production requires vigorous
pruning to keep the tree to a height that can be harvested. They have large leaves that
bear fruits resembling blackberries in size and shape. The fruit is a multiple fruit which
when immature is white or green to pale yellow with pink edges. In most species the fruit
is red when it is ripening and a fully ripened mulberry is dark purple to black. Mulberries
ripen over an extended period of time unlike many other fruits which seem to come all at
once. Fruit quality is variable and too soft for shipment to market so it rarely enters into
commerce. Generally the plants bear heavy reliable crops. The foliage and unripe fruit
may be poisonous.
Mulberry is grown in Washington State on very limited acreage. Trees are planted as
ornamentals usually as a hedgerow and the fruits are used for fresh, local markets.
They have improved on the native varieties and the most common variety grown in
Washington is the Illinois Everbearing. It has berries that are large, flavorful, nearly
seedless and has a long growing season. The fruit tastes like extra sweet blackberries. It
does not need cross pollination and growers can harvest mulberries in late June through
October, picking the fruit twice a week. Fruits can be harvested by spreading a sheet on
the ground and shaking the limbs. From transplant to harvest it is 1-2 years depending on
the variety. Mulberry is often associated with the nursery rhyme “Here we go round the
There are no insect or disease issues, however birds are a problem.
Growers can control birds with netting, noises, hanging owls, snakes or hanging shiny
Growers need help finding effective ways to keep birds from eating their crop.
Expert contact: Michael Dolan
Burnt Ridge Nursery, Inc
432 Burnt Ridge Road
Onalaska, WA 98570
360 985 2873
of production: Asotin, Chelan, Lewis and Thurston counties.