This week on Know Your Trees, GM is visiting a tree that is both beloved and hated for the exact same thing: its fruit. The tree in question: the mulberry.
Mulberry trees are a fast growing deciduous tree. The variety you are likely to see around DC, the red mulberry, is native to the eastern United States. The range spans basically all of the country east of the plains states and south of Chicago.
The red mulberry has a spade-like shaped leaf, like this:
But the leaves can also look like mittens and tridents, like this:
But the distinguishing feature of mulberries are their fruit, also called mulberries.
The trees produce them like crazy. They generally start greenish white, move to red, and then end up a dark blue or black. Once ripe, they look quite a bit like blackberries. They are edible and quite tasty (tasting a bit more like a raspberry than a blackberry) but before they’re ripe they’re mildly poisonous. Eating mulberries before they’re dark blue can irritate your stomach or give you nausea.
But the problem with mulberries, and the reason lots of people hate them, is that it’s impossible to pick berries when they’re 50 feet in the air. And when the scores of berries go unpicked, they’ll just fall on the ground. They easily get stuck on the bottom of shoes and can quickly stain your carpets if you’re not careful.
There are two large mulberries in Georgetown that GM is familiar with. The first is near the intersection of 30th and R St and the second is in the photo at the top, located at 33rd and Q.