Forestry and Natural Areas
White mulberry, a native of eastern Asia, was introduced during colonial times in an effort to establish a silkworm industry in the United States. It occurs throughout the country with the exception of Arizona and Nevada. The ecological threats posed by white mulberry include its hybridization with and replacement of our native red mulberry (Morus rubra), the transmittal of a harmful root disease to red mulberry, and its ability to invade natural areas including fields, forest edges and roadsides.
In 100 Years of Change in the Distribution of Common Indiana Weeds by William and Edith Overlease (2002) reported that white mulberry was not recorded in Indiana in 1899 (Coulter’s Catalogue of Indiana Plants); however, Coulter noted that white mulberry “had escaped from cultivation in the southern counties and was found in all the southern counties to a greater or lesser extent and reported as far north as Putnam.” In 1940 (Deam’s Flora), white mulberry was recorded in Boone, Cass, Clay, Decatur, Elkhart, Floyd, Franklin, Gibson, Greene, Henry, Jasper, Jefferson, Knox, Kosciusko, LaGrange, La Porte, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Noble, Owen, Porter, Putnam, and Steuben. Deam noted that “this species was formerly recommended for forest planting for growing fence post timber. Through the agency of birds, this species has become widely distributed in woodland and along fences.” In 2002 Overlease recorded white mulberry in all 92 counties in Indiana.