A deciduous bushy tree up to 25 ft high or, more usually, a shrub up to 10 or 15 ft high; young shoots glabrous. Leaves very variable in size and shape, ordinarily ovate with a truncate or heart-shaped base and toothed, but often very deeply three- or five-lobed, the lobes themselves deeply scalloped, 2 to 6 in. long and from two-thirds to quite as much in width, upper surface dull dark green and covered with minute warts which make it slightly rough to the touch; sparsely downy beneath, soon becoming nearly or quite glabrous; stalk 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long. Male catkins up to 11⁄4 in. long; female ones one-third as much long, silky-hairy. Fruits dark red, juicy, sweet, 1⁄2 in. or rather more long.
Native of China, Japan, Ryukyu Islands, Formosa and Korea; introduced by Wilson in 1907, but cultivated a good many years previously as “M. alba stylosa”. Griffith (whose name for this mulberry is adopted by Schneider in Plantae Wilsonianae, Vol. Ill, p. 297) found it common in woods near Cheikwar (now spelt ‘Saikhoa’), a small town in Upper Assam on the Brahmaputra river. It is quite hardy and grows freely in this country although it is not so large a tree as the white or the common mulberry. It has been confused with M. alba, from which it differs in the stigma being borne on a distinct style; in M. alba the style is nearly or quite absent. The fruit of M. australis has, in consequence, a much more bristly appearance. When not in fruit a good distinction is the absence of tufts of down in the vein-axils of the leaf (present in M. alba). The leaves are not used to feed silkworms.