Mulberries are large trees with ornamental appeal. They produce abundant small fruits rather like blackberries.
Mulberries are primarily ornamental trees which are also grown for their fruit, and distantly related to figs. There are several species - Morus nigra, also known as the Black Mulberry is the main fruting species. Morus alba, the White Mulberry, also produces edible fruits but is primarily grown for its ornamental value. White Mulberries are also used in silk production - silkworms feed on their leaves, which have a much finer texture than the leaves of the Black Mulberry.
Most mulberries are raised on their own roots (i.e. not grafted).
Traditional mulberries are best-suited to large open gardens or parkland areas, and they grow slowly into large trees of about 6m-10m height and spread. If planting several trees, allow about 10m / 30ft between trees.
The fruit resembles raspberries or unripe blackberries, and has a tangy sweet-sharp taste. It can be eaten fresh or used for cooking (in other words, just like raspberries and blackberries). The fruit is borne throughout the canopy of the tree, generally out of reach from the ground - the usual method of picking is by shaking the branches when the fruit is ripe in late August.
Mulberries are easy to grow (if you have the space), usually unaffected by diseases. The white mulberry species is generally easier to grow and more tolerant of a wider range of soils and climates than the black mulberry. The main issue with growing black mulberry trees in the UK is that they are not particularly cold-hardy, and can suffer if temperatures fall greatly below freezing for any length of time.
Pruning is not usually necessary and best avoided.
All the mulberries we supply are self-fertile, or "monoecious", with male flowers which can be pollinated from other pollen on the same tree. However older mulberry trees can ocasionally become "dioecious". In other words they change sex - the flowers switch from male to female. They will still produce fruit, but only if another mulberry with male flowers is nearby. The cause for this change is not known, but is thought to be a response to a sudden change in the local environment.
Mulberries are slow-growing and can be grown in large pots or planters for a decade or more, although trees grown this way may eventually need to be planted in open ground.