DESCRIPTION 

Mulberries are the fruits of mulberry trees (Morus), related to figs and breadfruit.Mulberry trees are traditionally grown for their leaves, mainly in Asia and North America, as they are the only food that silkworms can eat.Because of their sweet flavor, impressive nutritional value and numerous health benefits, mulberries are gaining increased interest worldwide .Chinese herbal medicine has used mulberry trees for thousands of years to treat diseases like heart disease, diabetes, anemia and arthritis . Mulberries are most commonly made into wine, fruit juice, tea, jam or canned foods, but can also be dried and consumed as a snack.

HOW TO GROW 

  • Growing mulberry trees can be done in most climates. I have even grown a mulberry tree very successfully in a desert climate. They love any warm climates, and will survive anywhere as long as the climate is not excessively cold.
  • They also like a pH soil of 5.5 – 7 and preferably a loamy soil. But even that you can compromise on. They are quite hardy plants. But the species that you want is the black mulberry for its fruit. The white mulberry has very insipid fruit that is only grown for ornamental purposes.
  • Mulberry trees are not trees you want to plant in small gardens. They can reach heights of between 30-50 feet over 20 years of growth.
  • The best time to plant bare-rooted trees is during the winter when the plant is dormant.
  • If you live in a windy area, it is better to find a sheltered spot for it. Young trees don’t have strong limbs and could easily be damaged. They also like to be well-watered, especially in the first 2 years as their root system is  still fairly shallow.
  • If you live in a hot climate, it would be best to conserve as much water as possible and therefore a layer of mulch would be highly beneficial for your plant. Water well when the fruit begins to form if you live in a hot climate, because if you don’t, your fruit will fall before they have even begun to ripen.
  • To look after your tree dress with some compost just before it fruits and after it has finished.
  • If you need to prune your tree in anyway, you should do so in the winter months, as your tree will bleed during the times when the sap is rising, and you don’t want that.
  • There is no point in growing mulberries without using the fruit. And let’s face it, how many mulberry pies, desserts or bottles of jam will you go through before you get to a stage that you don’t even want to look at another mulberry.
  • Mulberries are also self-fertile, so you don’t have to plant more than one tree to get the soft, luscious fruit every year. Best of all, you don’t have to wait 20 years before it begins to fruit. Your tree will fruit the very first year, and in each successive year the crop will be better than the last. It will fruit well for at least 40 years.

PLANT CARE 

  • If you live in a windy area, it is better to find a sheltered spot for it. Young trees don’t have strong limbs and could easily be damaged. They also like to be well-watered, especially in the first 2 years as their root system is  still fairly shallow.
  • If you live in a hot climate, it would be best to conserve as much water as possible and therefore a layer of mulch would be highly beneficial for your plant. Water well when the fruit begins to form if you live in a hot climate, because if you don’t, your fruit will fall before they have even begun to ripen.
  • To look after your tree dress with some compost just before it fruits and after it has finished.
  • If you need to prune your tree in anyway, you should do so in the winter months, as your tree will bleed during the times when the sap is rising, and you don’t want that.
  • But as mulberry trees can  grow quite high, it is worth keeping the tree short enough for you to be able to harvest the berries without too much trouble. If you don’t you will lose the berries to the birds, and you will have to make do with the fruit from the lower limbs.

PESTS/DISEASES

  • A mulberry tree might suffer from one or more of these diseases:
  • Armillaria root rot, commonly called Texas root rot, affects all mulberries to one degree or another, first causing discolored and dropped leaves, then killing branches and entire trees. Prevent the disease by keeping the tree healthy and by planting resistant varieties, such as a fruitless white mulberry.
  • Bacterial blight causes black or brown spots on leaves, diseased growths on branches, oozing twigs or growths on the flowers, fruit and stems. Practice good tree care to help the tree resist blight.
  • Canker disease, which turns leaves yellow or brown and causes dead spots on tree trunks, can kill a mulberry tree. Maintaining a healthy environment for the tree is your only defense for canker disease.
  • Caterpillars form canopies in the branches of mulberries and feed on leaves and stems, sometimes destroying whole trees in the process. Remove any caterpillar nests you can reach — they are easy to see — and dispose of the leaves and branches.
  • Scales suck the moisture from leaves and kill them. Apply sticky tape around the trunks of young trees to trap scales. Mulberry trees are too large to spray, so keep them healthy to provide the best protection.
  • Like scales, whiteflies suck moisture from leaves, but they also deposit a sticky honeydew that causes leaves to turn yellow or die. Minimize whitefly invasions by strictly maintaining a healthy growing environment for the tree.

 

HEALTH 

  • Antioxidants help lessen the damage caused by free radicals and the entire mulberry plant- leaves, stems, and fruit, contains antioxidants.  One antioxidant in particular, resveratrol, has gotten much attention. Research published by the University of Texas Health Science Center credits resveratrol for positive effects on age and longevity.
  • Mulberries contain alkaloids that activate macrophages. Macrophages are white blood cells that stimulate the immune system, putting it on high active alert against health threats.
  • More formal research is appropriate, but mulberry is thought to contain compounds that support balanced blood sugar levels.  Traditional medicine in China, Trinidad and Tobago have all used mulberry leaves to promote balanced blood sugar levels.
  • Dried mulberries are a great source of protein, vitamin C and K, fiber, and iron. Best of all, they are available in health food stores everywhere! Enjoy them as a great snack all by themselves or add them to your favorite trail mix. If you live in a warm climate and are lucky enough to have mulberry trees nearby, you can enjoy the fruit fresh off the tree. Not as tasty as the fruit, even the leaves contain protein, fiber, and nutrients!