Grown for centuries and popular for fresh fruit, wine, jam and cooking, the mulberry is a resilient and generous fruit tree. Kids can climb up and pick and eat until their clothes and faces are stained with the rich, red juice of this delicious berry, while you win friends with mulberry coulis and ice-cream in the kitchen. Free of thorns, low-maintenance, fruiting while small and young, and self-pollinating, the mulberry is an easy addition to a fruitful garden.
Where you plant your mulberry tree does require some thought, as the berries will stain pathways and be carried by shoes onto your new cream sisal carpet. Over a chook pen is ideal, as the chooks will eat any fallen fruit and bask with full stomachs in the cool lime shade of the heart-shaped leaves.
The tree does best in a sunny position and will benefit from rich, fertile soils, but is quite tolerant of soil types. It is also fairly drought tolerant, but will drop fruit if stressed by lack of water, so if you are growing for the fruit then it is prudent to water during dry times. Good soil preparation with well-rotted compost and the use of straw mulch will minimize water requirements. An annual application of a balanced fertilizer is all it needs.
Mulberries fruit on current season’s wood, so prune annually to encourage new growth if desired. Pruning should be done after harvest. Mulberries ripen over an extended period of time, unlike many other fruits which come all at once, allow fruit to ripen fully on the tree.
Black English (Morus nigra)
Prolific, long, juicy black-red berries with a sweet, slightly acidic flavour. Berries produced over a short season in late spring. Slow growing tree to 10m high by 10m wide. The Black English originates from Persia. Eat fresh,in jam, in cooking, and excellent for wine making.
Hicks Fancy (Hicks Fancy) (Morus Hybrid)
Faster growing than the Black English, the Hicks Fancy will reach about 4m in height and width. Heavy cropper. The juicy red-black berries will be produced for three months, maturing in late spring. Originates from North America. Use fresh, in jam, cooking, and wine making. Foliage is good food for silk worms.
White Mulberry (Morus alba)
The source of food for silkworms, the White Mulberry originates from China. The long pale greenish-yellow berries are very sweet. Fast growing tree to 20m by 20m. Best suited to humid summers.
White Shahtoot (Morus macroura)
Long white, extremely sweet fruit to 10cm. Small, spreading and hardy tree reaching 5m by 7m wide.