Mulberry is popularly known for its tasty edible fruits rather than being an ornamental shade tree. It produces an abundance of berries that often can be consumed raw, dried as a snack, and processed into juice, jam, and preserves.
This fast-growing weed tree can thrive everywhere. Moreover, the plant offers little care but provides many health benefits due to its fruits. Therefore, this article will discuss how to cultivate some mulberry varieties, what the plant looks like, and the nutritional values.
Morus is the scientific name of mulberries that produces colorful fruits. Its leaves become the primary diet for silkworms. Besides, some species are grown as ornamental trees. It is native to North America and Asia.
The mulberry wood resembles Osage orange, but Morus bark is lighter than Maclura pomifera. Besides, Black Locust is tall and fluorescent foliage that looks like this tree.
Mulberry Tree Identification
For matures mulberry tree height is about 15 meters and has a trunk with a diameter of 3 to 5 meters. The heartwood comes in a golden brown hue that turns into reddish color as it ages. Meanwhile, the sapwood appears yellowish-white. Its grain has a straight and steady texture.
The tree features fugacious curved leaves that are arranged by turns one after the other along the stems. It can be both monoecious and dioecious. Its sweet berries develop from a flower cluster, whereas the blossoms are produced in groupings.
Common Mulberry Varieties
Three major species vary on the fruit’s coloration and the leaf shapes. The ripe berries come in pink, red, white, or purple. The varieties include M. alba, M. rubra, and M. nigra.
White Mulberry Variety
Morus alba is the scientific name of white mulberries. This species comes from Asia, yet initially grown in southern Europe. Silkworms feed on the leaves as the only one food.
The colors of the leaves are yellowish-green or dark green. They have a shiny and smooth surface. The young growth comes in a rounded shape but turns into a glove-shaped form at maturity.
Instead of white, Morus alba can produce lavender and black fruits. These berries are very sweet without sour flavor.
The white and purple fruits reach a size of 3 to 6 centimeters. The harvesting time starts from mid-spring to late summer. The fresh crops only stay for several days, so keep them in the freezer for later use.
This fast-growing plant grows about 10 to 20 meters tall. Although the tree has a short lifespan, some individuals can last over 250 years.
The white berry tree has some beneficial types like Russian mulberry. Importantly, this variety is resistant to cold temperatures. It is used for timber and shelterbelt instead of a fruitless group of cultivars. Another one is M. alba ‘Pendula’ that functions as a lawn plant.
Morus nigra natively comes from southwest Asia. This tree produces large and juicy berries. The fruits offer a tasty blend of sour and sweet flavors. They grow about 2.5 centimeters with a diameter of 3 cm. Their appearances are black and glossy.
Generally, the leaves of black mulberries look similar to the red varieties and have a hairy surface at the lower part. The upper side has a scabrous texture with asymmetrical leaf blades. They are also large, thick, toothed, and curved with sturdy twigs and fat buds.
Anyway, Sycamine leaves can also be used to feed the silkworms, but the silk quality is not as good as the white variety. When it comes to flowers, they are small and unappealing.
This tree has bright yellow branches and shoots. It is shorter than the Morus alba plant. Its wood is very sturdy, so the bark is suitable for woodcraft. It is resistant to drought and shade, but do not grow in gravelly or chalk areas.
Due to the numerous branches, the Sycamine tree creates a shaded and compact canopy. For outdoor use, Morus nigra functions as ornamental foliage in the backyard. It also popularly becomes bonsai and indoor plants.
Morus rubra natively inhabits North America and lives in soils with deep rich along currents and bottomlands. It is the largest variety that grows about 21 meters tall. The longevity of red mulberries is more than 75 years
Morus murrayana has a short trunk with two-lobed, three-lobed, and opened leaf shapes. The elongated tip comes out from the curved blade. The margins have toothed edges with a rounded base or heart shape. The coloration turns into vibrant yellow during the fall season.
Moreover, its edible fruits come in a deep red or dark purple color. The taste is similar to the black variety. They reach a size of 3.2 centimeters long. Meanwhile, the flowers have green, white, and brown hues. The bloom time starts from March to June.
How to Grow Mulberry
If you have successfully established Morus trees, they will need low maintenance. Grow in areas with rainfall between 600 to 1500mm/year without watering. You can plant them in wetlands or riverbanks. Mulberries can grow in subtropical and tropical regions as evergreens.
Mulberry trees can be grown in a variety of soils with full sun exposure. Coarse, medium and fine lands are acceptable with a pH of 5 to 7. Therefore, prepare warm and well-drained planting areas such as deep loam. Keep the loamy sites moist for the best yields.
You can cultivate them everywhere since they are wind-resistant and salt-tolerant. However, do not grow near a walkway, except for the fruitless plant. Be aware of choosing the planting areas. Make sure that the falling berries will not annoy the location.
Since the large foliage provides a heavy shade, you can use the lower areas for shrubs, herbs, and other small trees. To improve the yields, allow the dioecious cultivars to cross-pollinate. Pollination that occurs by wind will help mulberry plants to set fruits.
Moreover, the propagation can be successfully done by seeds and wood cuttings for some varieties. The best time to sow the seedlings is after the fruiting period. Layering and stratifying for 1 to 4 months can increase the germination quality.
Mulberry Care Guide
Since mulberries need little fertilizer, add the soil surface with compost while planting a new tree. Fertilizing repeatedly in the spring season for two years is enough, except you cultivate the plants in polycultures.
Then, mulch and water the new trees every two weeks. During the flowering and fruiting time, they require more irrigation to produce more fruits. Remove any growing weeds around the young mulberry plants. Thus, wait for maturity to grow well among other companions.
Additionally, start pruning in July to develop some main branches. Prune the dormant trees to avoid bleeding at the cuts. Do not trim more than 5 centimeters since the severeness cannot be healed. You only need to remove the dead, overcrowded, and infected branches.
Fortunately, mulberry requires less maintenance since the tree is free of diseases and pests. Dieback and cankers rarely happen to this plant. White and red varieties are prone to popcorn illness that the fruits expand the size to resemble popped corn. Burn the infected parts to treat this problem.
Mulberry Nutrition Info
Mulberry fruits are superfoods since they contain lots of vitamins and minerals. The fresh berries mostly contain water with 60 calories every 140 grams. They offer 0.56 grams of fat, 1.96 grams of protein, 2.38 grams of fiber, and 13.72 grams of carbs per cup.
Moreover, mulberries provide polyphenol pigment antioxidants as health-promoting nutrition. They also have anthocyanins to cure bacterial infections, cancer, inflammation, diabetes, and neurological diseases.
Furthermore, resveratrol in mulberry can prevent the risk of stroke, whereas zeaxanthin will protect the retina from UV rays. Generally, these superfoods become excellent sources of iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.
Instead of the fruits, the leaves also contain beneficial nutrients. They are rich in vitamin C, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, polyphenol antioxidants, and other healthy plant compounds. Serve them as drinking tea or herbal supplements.
There are so many benefit from mulberry, like white mulberry variety especially is grown for silk production through Bombyx mori. The leaves also have health benefits as natural medicine. They can lower insulin and blood sugar to heal diabetes. The leaf extract also increases heart health by decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol.
Besides, edible fruits give wildlife value for mammals and birds. Red mulberries attract raccoons, foxes, deer, and squirrels. Catbirds, pigeons, woodpeckers, and cardinals feed on the berries. Meanwhile, butterfly caterpillars consume the leaves as food.
For landscaping uses, the foliage becomes a gorgeous ornamental tree, private hedges, and effective windbreaks. The sturdy wood can be used for furniture, handicrafts, hockey sticks, and many turned objects.
Other commercial benefits are ropes and threads from the inner barks. Moreover, some woven baskets are produced with thin branches of mulberry.
Additionally, the uses of mulberries give health benefits. The bark is good for healing stomachache. The twigs and leaves can cure cough, heavy colds, wounds, insect bites, and red eyes. To treat melancholia and sore throat, you can consume the fruits.
Finally, almost all parts of mulberry plants have health benefits, wildlife values, landscape uses, and commercial advantages. The tree also offers easy cultivation with effortless care for gardeners, even the ones who have less experience in gardening.