Home Orcharding

    • Lilacs and wisteria have beautiful spring flowers. They come in a variety of colors and can be planted now from bare-root plants.
    • Blueberries are a delicious fruit that can be planted now from bare-root plants. Give them a rich, acid bed prepared with lots of peat moss.
    • Many fine varieties of flowering dogwoods, tulip magnolias, Japanese maples and other specimen plants are now available at nurseries for winter planting.
    • Strawberries can be planted any time now. Get them in early, and you’ll be picking strawberries this summer.

Marvelous Mulberry Trees

What a surprise it is to first discover a blackberry growing on a tree! Mulberries, these are, and what an interesting family.

The White Mulberry, (Morus alba), is native to China where the ancient silk culture developed using their leaves are the primary food source for silkworm larvae. It was transported to Turkey and then to Europe where it became naturalized centuries ago. It was introduced into America for silkworm culture in early colonial times. First sold to farmers, it has spread unchecked throughout much of the country. It’s fruit varies from white to pink and is sweet but mild-flavored.

In California, a fruitless cultivar is widely grown as an ornamental tree. The familiar “Fruitless Mulberry” is a male hybrid that makes catkins but no fruit.

Teas Weeping Fruiting Mulberry (Morus alba ‘Pendula’) is a beautiful weeping tree. It mounds up slowly to 10’ – 12’, and produces large quantities of juicy fruit. Its slender, weeping branches cascade down to the ground, making the red fruit easy to pick and a favorite with children.

The red or American mulberry is native to eastern United States, from New England to the Gulf coast. Although native, it is a threatened species because it hybridizes readily with the invasive White Mulberry. It has dark purple fruit with very sweet flavor.

A century ago, every farmer in the U.S had mulberry trees planted at his farm garden. They grew rapidly and made excellent shade and, planted near the hog lot or over the chicken coop, they were an excellent food staple for the farm animals.

Persian Black Mulberry (Morus nigra) is native to southwestern Asia and has been grown in Europe since before Roman times for its flavorful, purplish-black fruit. The tree grows 20-30 feet tall and spreads about 20 feet wide. It is very long lived, and develops gnarled, picturesque branches with age.

Black mulberries are also available in bush form. This plant is popular in England where the nursery song originated: “Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush…”

Mulberries are greatly loved by birds. Plant one to feed the birds, and or to attract birds away from other fruit trees. The fruit can stain patio areas and decks, so it should be planted away from outdoor living areas.

A good place for a Mulberry tree is in a lawn. This makes harvesting easy: just spread a sheet below the tree, shake the branches gently and the fruits drops onto the sheet for easy gathering. The fruits can be eaten fresh or used for making jam, jellies, pies, tarts, syrups or cordials. Dried fruits are used for snacks and in puddings, cookies, muffins and confections.

Mulberry trees have very attractive, dark green leaves. Although somewhat drought-resistant, they need to be watered in dry seasons, or the fruit is likely to drop before it has fully ripened. They are easy to grow and fun to eat.

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