A medium-sized tree with a short trunk, broad, round crown and many fine twigs.
Leaves alternate, simple, 2–6 inches long, with 0–5 lobes, coarse teeth, pointed tip. Three main veins arise from the base. Undersurface smooth, paler than above. Bleeds milky sap. Leaf stalk smooth.
Bark thin, brown, sometimes tinged with red or yellow, with shallow grooves and long, narrow ridges; ages to resemble elm bark.
Twigs reddish-brown, smooth to slightly hairy, turning gray and smooth with age. Bleed milky sap.
Flowers April–May, with male and female flowers on the same tree or on different trees. Male catkins ½–1½ inches long; female catkins ½–¾ inch long.
Fruits June–August, blackberry-like; white to pink to purple; globe-shaped to oval; ½–¾ inch long.
Our native red mulberry (M. rubra) has leaves hairy underneath, more often lobeless, with hairy leaf stalk; its fruits are cylindrical and start out red (not white or pink); its catkins and leaves are larger.