Mulberry trees come in many different shapes and sizes, but all produce the clustered mulberry fruit. Most species have been imported to the United States from Asia, but now thrive and are even considered invasive in some areas. Several cities in North America, like El Paso, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona have banned the planting of new mulberry trees because of the quantity of pollen that they produce.
The three main types of mulberry trees would be the indigenous red mulberry (Morus rubra), the East Asian white mulberry (Morus alba) and the southwestern Asian black mulberry (Morus nigra). Through the years, 150 different mulberry species are noted, but just 10 to 16 of these are accepted as authentic species from the botanical community. Other accepted species comprise the Texas mulberry (Morus microphylla) and African mulberry (Morus mesozygia ). Numerous hybrids further complicate classification of mulberry trees.
The height of mulberry trees varies considerably depending on the variety. The white mulberry can tower up to 80 feet, while the black mulberry barely reaches 30 feet, and frequently grows as a bush if not educated. The red mulberry lies somewhere in between, with a maximum height of about 70 feet in great conditions. Mulberry trees are fast growers when young but slow as they age. All mulberry varieties are deciduous. The white mulberry has thin, very light green lobed or unlobed leaves, with a drooping or erect form. The black and red mulberry trees have thicker and bigger leaves, mostly lobed, with a more consistent erect kind. Mulberry flowers are clustered, appearing on catkins from old wood. They are wind-pollinated. Some trees, independent of type, are monoecious while some are dioecious. In the flowers arrive clustered fruits which resemble blackberries, ripening to a deep red, white or purple, depending on the variety. From seed, it may take six years for the tree to fruit.
At the early colonial era, the white mulberry was imported to the U.S. from Asia to get silkworm production. The endeavor was found to be overly pricey, but white mulberry trees remain because of this. Today, the fruit is used in pies, wines, teas and cordials. The black mulberry has the strongest flavor, with equal parts tart and sweet, while the white mulberry as a lighter, mostly sweet flavor. Red mulberries have also a sweet and tart flavor, but black mulberries tend to be bigger and juicier and therefore are used more frequently in cooking.
Mulberry trees grow well from seed, but they are usually grafted utilizing the sprig budding process. Mulberries grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8. All varieties need full sunlight, at least 15 feet of space and a deep, fertile well-drained soil. They are just somewhat drought-resistant, which means you will have to water them during dry periods. Pruning out dead, weak and over-crowded branches will help boost air circulation and great health. Mulberry trees are robust and have few pests or diseases. Canker and dieback can sometimes be a problem. Some white mulberry trees and hybrids are influenced by popcorn disorder, where sections of this fruit will enlarge, which makes it look like popcorn. Control the illness by accumulating and disposing of this fruit.