Garden Clippings for August 3, 2019

Watch where you walk.  Fallen Mulberry fruit will turn your concrete driveway into a black mess and can be as slippery as a banana peel on the shop room floor.

We have a love/hate relationship with Mulberry (Morus Alba) trees.  On the love side, Mulberries are fast growing, don’t become huge and grow well in difficult urban conditions.

Mulberries’ sweet, juicy fruit, resembling raspberries, are wonderful for pies and jams.  The fruit ripens all at once and is easy to pick. Some suggest that the easiest way to harvest fruit is to put down a drop sheet and shake the limbs till all the fruit drops.  If you want to attract birds and insects to your backyard, plant a Mulberry in the back corner.

On the hate side, Mulberries grow where you least expect or want: in sidewalk cracks, in the tight spot between the air conditioner and the house, and under fence rails.  Nobody plants Mulberries.  They sprout up innocently but, in a few years, become too difficult to remove or dig up.

Mulberries attract birds which may be a nuisance for those with white driveways and polished cars.  As fruit turns from green to white to red to black, so does the colour of bird droppings.

Mulberry trees are weak-wooded and will drop sections of limbs with ice and windstorms.  Their distinctive yellow fleshed roots are aggressive, raising concrete sidewalks and playing havoc with leaky pipes and drainage tiles.

When Mulberry fruit ripens to its reddish black colour it eventually drops leaving a smelly sticky mess that attract a variety of insects, most of which are bothersome houseflies.

Mulberry trees are interesting in that they are mostly unisexual, meaning they produce both male and female flowers in the same tree. Occasionally, male and female flowers are separated in individual trees.  Both are needed to produce fruit.

Weeping Mullberry  (Morus alba ‘Pendula’) is a highly ornamental trees admired for its picturesque arching branches.  The tree rarely grows higher than 3 or 4 metres, and when mature, can reach a width of 2 or 3 metres.  Weeping Mulberries are cultivated as males because most landscape gardens don’t want the bother of dealing with fruit.

The Mulberry trees we see in our part of the world are White Mulberry, which was introduced, along with silkworms, to North America with the hopes of building up a silk industry.  That endeavor failed, but Mulberry trees continued to thrive, especially in the eastern parts of USA and Canada.  Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) is a native tree             on the endangered species list.