Are Mulberry Trees Illegal? What To Know Before Planting

Mulberry trees, belonging to the genus Morus, are renowned for their delectable fruits and eye-catching appearance.

These deciduous trees can grow in various climates and have been cultivated for centuries for their bountiful harvest of mulberries, which can be enjoyed fresh or dried or turned into various culinary delights such as jams, pies, and desserts.

Despite their many benefits, there has been some confusion and controversy surrounding the legality of planting mulberry trees in certain areas.

Are mulberry trees illegal? The legality of planting mulberry trees depends on your location and local ordinances. In some areas, white mulberry trees might be classified as invasive, leading to restrictions or prohibitive legislation. However, in many places, mulberry trees are legal to plant and grow.

Although the idea of having your own mulberry to enjoy can be enticing, planting a tree or plant that is restricted in your area is not something you want to do.

Let’s take a deeper look at why mulberry trees can be problematic and whether you should plant one or not.

Key Takeaways

  • The legality of planting mulberry trees depends on location and local regulations, with some areas prohibiting invasive species or requiring environmental impact assessments.
  • Common myths about mulberry trees include concerns about messiness, invasiveness, and allergenic properties, which can be addressed with proper care and selection of non-invasive species.
  • The benefits of mulberry trees include abundant and nutritious fruits, attractive landscape features, and wildlife attraction.
  • Downsides to consider include potential staining from fallen berries, attracting wildlife that may consume the fruit, space requirements, and cleaning up the mess from birds.

Wondering about mulberry trees and seeking answers? You’re not alone! Don’t miss out on my inclusive guide, Common Questions About Mulberry Trees, for all the answers and insights you need.

Mulberry Tree Regulations and Restrictions

As badly as you may want to grow a mulberry tree, before deciding to plant a mulberry tree, it is essential to familiarize yourself with your chosen type of mulberry tree and the regulations and restrictions governing the cultivation of these trees in your area.

Let’s take a look at the reasons behind prohibitive legislation, local ordinances, zoning laws, and environmental impact assessments that may impact the permissibility of planting mulberry trees.

The Reasoning Behind Prohibitive Legislation

Prohibitive legislation against certain mulberry tree species is often rooted in concerns about their adaptability and potential to become invasive.

Invasive species are non-native plants that can spread rapidly and outcompete native vegetation, disrupting local ecosystems.

While all the different mulberry trees are not inherently invasive, some specific species have been known to naturalize and spread in certain regions, particularly if they escape cultivation.

White mulberry trees often hybridize with native red mulberry trees, making the tree a threat to native species that exist in harmony with the local ecosystem.

Perhaps another reason behind the restrictions in several states involves the poisonous sap found in the mulberry tree leaves and bark. Unripe berries are also toxic.

To address these concerns, certain regions or countries may have imposed restrictions on planting specific varieties of mulberry trees and bushes.

Before choosing a mulberry tree for your garden, research which species are considered invasive in your area, and opt for non-invasive or native species if you wish to avoid potential legal issues.

Local Ordinances Regarding Invasive Mulberry Trees

Apart from concerns about invasiveness, local ordinances and zoning laws can also impact the legality of planting mulberry trees.

These regulations are designed to maintain a harmonious and safe community by controlling landscaping practices, tree planting, and tree removal.

Some cities or neighborhoods may have restrictions on the planting of specific tree species, including fast-growing mulberry trees.

For instance, regions in Texas, Nevada, and Arizona banned the planting and sale of mulberry trees.

These regulations could be related to the tree’s size, potential impact on nearby properties, or other factors.

To determine whether mulberry trees are permitted in your area, contact your local government, nursery, or homeowners’ association to obtain information about the applicable rules and regulations.

Environmental Impact Assessments 

In areas with sensitive ecosystems or protected habitats, including wetlands or nature reserves, environmental impact assessments may be required before planting certain tree species, including mulberries.

These assessments evaluate the potential effects of introducing a new species on the local flora and fauna, water resources, and overall ecosystem health.

Before planting a mulberry tree in such areas, it is crucial to consult with local environmental authorities and obtain the necessary permits or clearances if needed.

Following the appropriate procedures helps ensure that you contribute positively to the environment and avoid unintentional harm to the local ecosystem.

A group of mulberries growing on a vertical branch of the tree.

Common Myths and Misconceptions

Beyond legal concerns, mulberry trees have been the subject of several myths and misconceptions that have influenced people’s perceptions of these trees.

In this section, we will debunk some of the most common myths associated with mulberry trees to provide a clearer understanding of their attributes.

The “Messy” Myth

One prevalent myth about mulberry trees is that they are messy and difficult to maintain.

The belief stems from the trees’ abundant fruit production, which can lead to fallen berries accumulating on the ground and staining sidewalks and driveways.

While it is true that mulberry plants and trees can create a colorful carpet of fruit when they ripen, this “mess” can be managed with proper maintenance practices.

Regularly pruning the tree to control its size and shape and cleaning up fallen berries can help keep the area tidy.

Additionally, many gardeners see the fallen fruits as a small price to pay for the joy of harvesting and enjoying mulberry fruits during the season.

Did you know that mulberry trees can be dioecious, and male trees will not produce fruit? These trees have all the beauty of a mulberry tree without any of the mess and can be a great choice for those looking for a low-maintenance shade tree.

Because mulberry trees are deciduous, in the fall or early winter, mulberry leaves will litter the ground and require proper cleaning up to prevent the potential for disease spread.

“Invasive” Accusations

Certain mulberry tree species have faced accusations of being invasive. However, it is essential to differentiate between the different varieties of mulberry trees.

While some species, such as the white mulberry (Morus alba), have shown invasive tendencies in certain regions, others like the red mulberry (Morus rubra) and the black mulberry (Morus nigra) are less prone to spreading aggressively.

By choosing non-invasive varieties, such as the native red mulberry, you can enjoy the benefits of mulberry trees without contributing to invasive species issues.

Allergenic Allegations

Another misconception surrounding mulberry trees is related to the amount of pollen they produce. It has been suggested that pollen produced from mulberry trees can trigger allergies in some individuals.

While it is true that mulberry trees produce pollen, they are not considered highly allergenic compared to some other tree species like oak or birch.

Furthermore, not all people are sensitive to mulberry pollen, and for those who are, the effects are generally mild and short-lived.

Mulberry Tree Benefits

So, if mulberry trees are illegal in certain areas, why plant one? Mulberry trees are hardy and offer numerous benefits that make them a valuable addition to gardens and landscapes.

  • Abundant and Nutritious Fruits: Mulberries are high in fiber and nutrients such as vitamin C as well as other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a healthy snack or a versatile ingredient in various culinary creations.
  • Attractive Landscape Features: Mulberry trees can enhance the aesthetics of your landscape with their beautiful foliage and often picturesque, gnarled branches. They provide shade and create a pleasant ambiance in outdoor spaces.
  • Wildlife Attraction: Mulberry trees are a magnet for wildlife, including birds, squirrels, and other small animals that eat mulberries. The trees act as important food sources, supporting local biodiversity.

Downsides of a Mulberry Tree

While mulberry trees have numerous advantages, mulberry trees are still problematic in some ways, and there are some downsides to consider before planting one in your garden.

  • Staining from Berries: The fruit of the mulberry tree can create stains on surfaces such as walkways, patios, and driveways. It’s essential to be mindful of this when choosing a planting location.
  • Attracting Wildlife: While attracting wildlife can be seen as a benefit, it can also be a drawback for some gardeners. Wildlife, particularly birds, can be drawn to the fruits and may consume a significant portion of the harvest before you get a chance to enjoy it.
  • Space Requirements: Mulberry trees can grow to be quite large, depending on the species and the conditions in which they are planted. Consider the available space in your garden before choosing a planting location.
  • Staining from Birds: In addition to staining from fallen berries, bird droppings can also be an issue as the fruit attracts many birds to the tree. Regular cleaning or pruning to manage the tree’s size and reduce bird roosting spots can help mitigate this issue.

Related Questions:

Why Can’t You Buy Mulberries?

It is relatively uncommon to find fresh mulberries in grocery stores, especially compared to other popular fruits like apples or oranges. The main reason for this is the delicate nature of the fruit.

Mulberries are soft and have a short shelf life, making them challenging to transport and store without damage or spoilage.

As a result, they are often best enjoyed directly from the tree or at local farmers’ markets where they are more readily available during the peak season.

Are Mulberry Trees Native to North America?

While mulberry trees have a long history of cultivation in various regions around the world, only one is native to North America.

The white mulberry (Morus alba) is originally native to China, and it was brought to North America as part of the ill-fated attempt to establish a silk industry in the 18th and 19th centuries as the leaves are the main food source for silkworms.

The red mulberry (Morus rubra) is the only mulberry variety that is native to North America and can be found in various parts of the continent.


To summarize, the legality of planting mulberry trees depends on your location and local regulations. Some areas may have restrictions or prohibitions due to concerns about invasiveness or protected habitats.

However, many places allow for the cultivation of non-invasive or native species, which can provide you with a delightful fruiting tree and various other benefits.

Debunking common myths about messiness, invasiveness, and allergenic properties, mulberry trees can be a rewarding addition to your garden.

The abundant and nutritious fruits, attractive appearance, and wildlife attraction make them a valuable asset.

However, it is crucial to be aware of potential downsides, such as staining from fallen berries and attracting wildlife, before planting a mulberry tree.

Overall, if you have the space and live in an area where mulberry trees are permitted, consider adding one to your garden to enjoy the delightful fruits and the beauty they bring to your outdoor space.

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