What tree is that? Is this a mulberry bush?

Raptor666June 21, 2014

Couple of pics. First is this tree. It seems to grow all over the place along the edges of woods in the Mid-Alantic. They don't seem to get too tall, maybe 15-20ft. I simply love its frond-like structure but I can't figure out what species it is.

The one in the center, bright green with the tall stalk-ish plant growing up though it. (I've since chopped down the tall stalks; what are they while I'm at it. They've simply gone wild since they cleared the woods besides me, and are even starting to invade my yard and flower beds. Are they safe to throw on a compost heap?)

This post was edited by Raptor666 on Sat, Jun 21, 14 at 11:11

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Growing beside the tree is this. Is it some kind of mulberry?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:10AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

dead center.. looks like a tree of heaven... if confirmed.. kill it ASAP

the understory plant... i cant find a leaf to focus on ... its something about the sun shining thru ... or my glasses are going bad ....

but if mulberry.. its a tree .. with vast potential ... as compared to a shrub ....


    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:16AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

The first one may be Sumac.
Yes,the second photo looks like a Mulberry. Brady

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:36AM
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yes it look like a mulberry tree I have one in my backyard
and the birds love it

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 5:13PM
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I battle this, too. That's Tree of Heaven or Ailantus altissima - kill immediately. If you break off a branch it smells like rancid peanut butter.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 7:45PM
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Tree of Heaven- horrible; does nothing for birds or bees; a total invasive "waste" tree. In the middle mixed in with the tree of heaven, I believe, not sure though, you may have a pokeberry bush. The one with the two hollow red stems, dig up with entire root and toss. Horrible and invasive weed. The mulberry is good for the birds. They feast on it and feed babies as well.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 9:12PM
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Kill it!? I will do no such thing! As I said I find it to be a lovely tree with a tropical feel to it, and one of the few trees remaining after they cleared the woods; it offers a bit of privacy. And unlike the pesky maples and stalks growing up through my fence and into my yard, it seems content to stay on the edge there for the past few years at least (been here 12 years, just now noticed it). Why on Earth would I try to kill it? (Hell, even if I wanted to, I'm far too lazy.)

And I don't really care if it feeds the birds or not -- they have plenty of dogwoods, poison ivy, blackberries, field corn, and as I've discovered, mulberries for that. Just because it supposedly doesn't do something for birds, does not make it a "waste" tree! Just because anything does not conform to your wishes or desires does not make it a "waste" organism! That's entirely the wrong attitude to have, no offense.

I digress, I don't think it's a Tree of Heaven anyways. I looked up pictures of both Tree of Heaven and sumac and they look so close as to be in the same family, perhaps the same genus, but I've not the time to look into it. Tree of Heaven looks to have spurs at the base of the leaves and the leaves of this tree are smooth. I was thinking it might be a staghorn sumac, but actually smooth sumac looks closer. I might have to wait til fall to figure it out, and then research how to propagate it. Since this forum sucks at resizing pics, here's some on photobucket (click to embiggen) :

Assuming that's poison oak growing up it. Provides a nice screening effect but it might need to go if it interferes with my tree.

They certainly do seem to be mulberry *trees*. Funny, I heard of mulberry bushes but not mulberry trees before. This is an excellent discovery; I can use some of the leaves to grow tomato hornworms! I was thinking about buying a mulberry and then I find two barely on the edge of the property, what luck! I just wonder howmany the killed when they tore up the trees.

Neat how the leaves change shape/ are asymmetrical as you go up the stem; that's really different from a lot of plants:

Still dunno what this thing is:

I have to admit it's pretty in it's own way with the splotchy leaves like that, but it's invading my personal space a tad too much. Someone said to dig it up? CBA with that; too much like work and far too much of it. Like I said, it went crazy after they cut the trees down; I guess the trees were out-competing it / shading it out. It runs the length of the fence with a big ole stand of it at the edge of the farmer's field which is creeping into my yard. I figure I'll just chop it down and throw it on a compost heap if I start one (as long as it's not in seed, I'm guessing).

And the entire time I was taking pictures a bird was chattering raucously above me. Figured I pissed it off somehow, then I caught of a bit of movement:

99% sure it's a fledgling oriole; he was hopping from branch to branch. Only caught glimpses of the dad as he flitted about; hard to take pics of him with the light behind him.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 10:26PM
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Where I grew up in Europe, Mulberry trees were prized (both thorned and thornless varieties).... Mulberry wine is divine =) They used to make jam from the fruit, too. My great grandparents used the fruit to dye wool, too. As kids, we used to climb up in the trees and gorge on the fruit -- turning out fingers purple in the process ;)

Some folks are far too quick to label something as a waste or a weed... Nature has no weeds! And Ken just needs to keep his useless over-opinionated comments to himself --- thread after thread he's out there insulting people or advising them to kill every plant in sight.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 12:00AM
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weedwoman(z6 NJ)

You're right, it doesn't look like Ailanthus. I don't think it looks like Sumac, either, though. Check out Black Walnut, Juglans nigra. Or possibly Butternut, they're pretty similar.

Your big mystery plant is Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana. A pretty vigorous weed, (although I've seen it used as an ornamental - it IS pretty ornamental, in my opinion.) If you want to feed the birds, they love the berries. You really don't want to dig this one up if you're lazy, the root under that thing is HUGE. Do youself a favor and pull up the seedlings before they get the big root, though, just to keep it under control. I think the variegated one has a virus or something.

That's Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, growing up the treetrunk. A common native vine. I do think I see a little poison ivy down at the bottom of your picture, though. (I'm assuming from the plants I see you live in the eastern US, poison oak is mostly found out west.)

And I wouldn't worry about them killing mulberry trees, nothing kills mulberry trees for long. We used to eat them when we were kids too,although I never though they had much flavor. Those are probably White Mulberry Trees, Morus alba, despite the color of the fruit. The leaves can be really variable in shape, and the fruit can be anything from black to red to white. There is a Red Mulberry that grows in the woods around here (NJ) but it's pretty uncommon.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 2:07AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Birds love pokeweed berries. They eat the berries, then sit on branches and fences and poop: instant fertilized pokeweed seeds!

A large pokeweed may contain a thousand or more berries. Each berry contains 8-10 seeds, and they will all sprout. All.

The roots are long and tough and difficult to dig up. If you leave any little bit of root, the plant will grow back.

If you don't take steps to keep pokeweed under control, you will have wall-to-wall pokeweed. You may choose to disbelieve this, but ... well ... it's your choice.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 12:49PM
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Ah, yes, I am in the eastern US, I thought I mentioned that, sorry. I was wondering if the splotchy one was sickly or just a variation or something, since I saw so many like that; I'll avoid composting just to be safe. If it feeds the birds, great, I don't have an issue with it as long as it stays in the woods. Any in the yard get chopped up by the lawnmower, they're mostly just a problem growing along the fence like I said but as long as they aren't hurting anything I'm happy to leave em be.

It does look a lot like a black walnut -- leaves looks a little too narrow to be the butternut/white walnut tree -- I'm really glad I didn't listen to the first guys saying to kill it! I'll probably have to wait for flowers/fruit/nuts to be sure. I wonder how many native trees get destroyed because of people mistaking them something else and going crazy on them.

Glad to hear it's not poison oak and won't hurt the tree. There's TONS of poison ivy around here, but it doesn't bother me at all. Some people are just immune/tolerant to it I think. It didn't bother my grandmother either; she could pull it by hand as I can.

Thanks for all your help everyone, especially you weedwoman !

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 4:22PM
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weedwoman(z6 NJ)

They were actually selling a variegated pokeweed at one point, although I still think yours has a virus. Don't know that I'd be willing to take a chance on planting it in my garden, though. And I always heard it was only safe to eat the leaves when the plant was very young, otherwise it was poisonous (the link refers to using it as a vegetable.)

Glad to help.


Here is a link that might be useful: Variegated Pokeweed

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 9:45PM
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Lealam(4 - ME)

Woah, things are heating up in the "name that plant" forum. Not crazy about the treatment of ken_adrian, especially because he was considerate enough to respond, wasn't rude, and he gave you some really good advice!

Now, I'm not trying to stoke the flames while things have already died down, but it's important to know that tree of heaven (which as far as I can tell, your tree isn't,) is an INVASIVE plant. If you are certain you've got an invasive plant on your property, the responsible thing to do is actually to kill it! Invasive plants negatively affect the environment they grow in, crowding out plants that the animals in the area eat, for example. Killing invasive plants has nothing to do with not having an appreciation for nature- actually, nothing shows you care about the world around you better than managing invasive plants in your area.

Here's a link to the invasive species wikipage:


    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 3:34AM
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I think the tree is black walnut

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 7:00AM
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