Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

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Common Name(s): Mulberry

Scientific Name: Morus spp. (Morus alba, M. nigra, M. rubra, etc.)

Distribution: Red Mulberry is native to Eastern North America, other species are found worldwide

Tree Size: 30-50 ft (10-15 m) tall, 1-1.5 ft (.3-.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 43 lbs/ft3 (690 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .55, .69

Janka Hardness: 1,680 lbf (7,470 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 11,680 lbf/in2 (80.6 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,352,000 lbf/in2 (9.32 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 6,990 lbf/in2 (48.2 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 3.3%, Tangential: 6.6%, Volumetric: 10.3%, T/R Ratio: 2.0

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a golden brown, darkening to a medium/reddish brown with age. Sapwood is a pale yellowish white. Overall appearance is very similar to Osage Orange.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight, with a uniform medium texture. Good natural luster.

Endgrain: Ring-porous; large earlywood pores 2-5 rows wide, small latewood pores in clusters and tangential bands; tyloses and other gum deposits common; parenchyma vasicentric, aliform, and confluent; medium to wide rays, spacing normal.

Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable, with good insect resistance and weathering properties.

Workability: Responds well to both hand and machine tools. Turns, glues, and finishes well.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Mulberry. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Due to its small size and scattered distribution, Mulberry is seldom if ever harvested commercially for lumber. Smaller pieces are sometimes available locally throughout the tree’s natural range. Expect prices to be high for a domestic hardwood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Fence posts, furniture, and turned objects.

Comments: Mulberry species are perhaps better known for their edible fruit. The leaves of White Mulberry (Morus alba) are also the primary food source for the silkworm (Bombyx mori), which is used to produce silk.

The wood itself looks very similar to Osage Orange, though Mulberry tends to be significantly lighter. Black Locust also bears a close resemblance to Mulberry, and it’s weight is only slightly higher than Mulberry’s. However, the two may be easily separated with a blacklight, as Mulberry is non-fluorescent, while Black Locust is highly fluorescent under a blacklight (see video below).

Related Species:

None available.

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Mike Leigher for providing the wood sample, and Steve Earis for providing the turned photo of this wood species.

Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

Red Mulberry (sanded)

Red Mulberry (sealed)

Red Mulberry (sealed)

Red Mulberry (endgrain)

Red Mulberry (endgrain)

Red Mulberry (endgrain 10x)

Red Mulberry (endgrain 10x)

Red Mulberry (turned)

Mulberry (turned)