The Black Mulberry (Morus nigra) is a staple tree of many Aussie gardens and for good reason! It is a fast growing, and long living deciduous tree that can reach up to 12m in height. There are dwarf and weeping varieties, and also red and white fruited varieties available as well.
A Mulberry tree is a great way to attract native birds into your garden
How Do I Select and Maintain a Mulberry Tree?
A Mulberry tree is not a particularly fussy plant and is well suited to our hot and dry climate and sandy soils, and only requires water to establish. If you only have a small garden, the smaller weeping varieties can make a striking feature tree in a large pot.
Their maintenance is fairly minimal, requiring a prune once a year and the tree prunings are useful in the garden as the strong wood can be used for making fences or trellises.
The broad leaves provide great shade in summer, however Mulberry trees drop the majority of their leaves in the winter to let in the sunshine so they are great planted in an area with a northern aspect.
Depending on the location, the fallen leaves can be left on the ground to provide a great mulch. The Mulberry is also an easy plant to propagate so you can share your cuttings with neighbours!
Mulberries are delicious baked into a tart
The delicious berries that the tree produces in summer is certainly a bonus and many people have childhood memories of stained lips, fingers and clothes from raiding a local Mulberry tree, or perhaps collecting the leaves for silkworms.
Does a Mulberry Tree have Health Benefits?
A little known fact is that the leaves of the Mulberry are also edible and nutritious and are reported to have multiple health benefits such as lowering blood sugar, reducing cholesterol and inflammation levels which may make them useful for fighting heart disease and diabetes.
Mulberries can be made into a sorbet with this easy mulberry sorbet recipe
Studies are currently underway to understand the efficacy of Mulberry leaves in the fight against cancer and whether they can aid with liver health and weight loss.
The leaves can be made into a tea or tincture or the young leaves can be blanched and eaten like spinach.
Where Do I Plant a Mulberry Tree?
The mature Mulberry leaves make great animal fodder so plant where accessible to foraging animals you may have like chickens, or near a range of animals if you are lucky enough to have some acreage.
The Mulberry tree does have an extensive root system so it is best planted away from buildings, but is great for anchoring the soil to prevent erosion.
It is also largely resistant to pests and the only things you will have to worry about is probably the birds who may come in to eat the fruit – though it can be a lovely way to bring some native birds into your garden.
Due to the staining nature of the fruit, it is best not to plant a Mulberry tree near a path. In Permaculture, the Mulberry makes a great tree to plant in or near a chicken coop as the chickens will make light work of any fallen fruit or leaves and benefit from the shade in summer.
The fruit can also be used to make a natural dye and interestingly, if you do happen to stain your favourite white t-shirt, rubbing the white, unripe fruit on the stain will help to remove it.
The Mulberry Tree has many uses and functions in a productive garden so visit your local edible nursery to find the right one for you.