I had no plans to have a mulberry tree but I think that I have one. While cleaning out a neglected area I found this tree. What should I do with it? Should I remove it, keep as is, or graft another variety to it. No experience with mulberries if ideed that is what it is.
Kinda out of focus, so I can’t really guess species. Most female M.rubra have acceptable to great fruits… but fruiting period is much shorter than we see with most of the rubraXalba hybrids, like Illinois Everbearing, Silk Hope, etc.
In my experience, the random exceptional M.alba is pretty doggone rare. Most I’ve sampled are small-fruited and either tart/lacking sweetness, or just sweet with no flavor or a ‘grassy’ taste. I’d graft a random M.alba without giving it second thought.
Of course, one possibility to consider is that it could turn out to be a non-fruiting male.
I have two hybrids, presumably seedlings of Illinois Everbearing, that popped up in the orchard and were relocated to spots adjacent to the cattle working pens to provide shade… both are OK. One is as good as Illinois Everbearing, with similar to slightly better flavor profile, and comparable bearing period… with no Popcorn Disease issues yet… but it’s located several hundred feet southeast from the perennially-affected IE trees.
Around here, I’d say about 5-15% of the wild albas have pretty nice to really nice fruit (good sweet/tart balance and depth of flavor), and I’ve found 2 that I like quite a bit. That being said, I’ve never tasted any of the good mulberry cultivars, so my “good” trees might not even be in the same league. I’d put them up there with a decent blueberry or raspberry for overall quality, though.
My 3 year old will happily shovel in any and all mulberries in whatever quantity she is permitted.
Regarding male trees, my estimation is that up to 2/3 of the population are males, but that estimation may be skewed by all the trees that keep getting lopped down every year and never get to fruit.
The fruit I’ve had was much duller than any of the rubus.
They are fine enough as part of mixed pies, cobblers or jams but not super exciting.
Not that I’ve had the top variety berries.
I’m keeping mine because : it’s free, we can always use more “filler” berries and I understand they can sometimes distract the birds from more valued crops.
Your average alba is sweet, but otherwise bland. Fruit range from white to purple to nearly black at ripeness; the white almost never have much depth of flavor. As I’ve stated above, there are some quite good ones out there. The best two I’ve found are definitely better than a supermarket blackberry. You could use them pretty much anywhere you would use other berries. They are very soft and fragile, though; if you put a bunch in a bowl, you’ll have a weepy, juicy mess by the afternoon. They also fill a nice seasonal niche between strawberries and cherries and the other summer berries. Your best odds would be to graft a named variety. I’ll leave it to the experts to make suggestions, as I have no experience there.
Edit: I just noticed on your first picture that it looks like you have female flowers/young berries. Wait till June or so and you should have a pretty good idea whether this tree is worthwhile. Also, from observing what people do to “manage” the feral trees here, they should respond well to a coppice or pollard type system–or even trimmed like a hedge–to manage size, or you can let it grow to a 30-50’ tree. I’m currently seeking out Girardi Dwarf so I can more easily manage it as a bush.
I topworked a bland wild white mulberry that showed up in my chicken run to five different cultivars a few weeks ago. Cousinfloyd and I traded and I got Illinois Everbearing, Collier, Shanxi Li, Gerardi, and “a flavorful white mulberry from Burnt Ridge.” They’re all pushing buds now but it’s too early to declare victory. Hope I get to try them all!
@jcguarneri . The flower tags dropped of so no fruit was set. While cleaning out another neglected flower bed I found another mulberry tree. It is in a better location for keeping so I will attempt grafting it over to a sweet one that has a tendency not to grow so high.
Is there a limit on how big of a tree you can coppice? I’ve got a volunteer on the edge of my property that is about 4-5 inches in diameter at the base, with all branches above my head. Do deer like the taste of mulberry foliage? If so maybe pollarding is the better way to get fruit closer to ground.
I have no idea what the biggest tree you could coppice is (and I’ve never actually done any coppice or pollard), but from what I’ve seen around town a 4-5" tree shouldn’t give you any trouble. There’s even one tree that I know of where the very large main trunk has died and it’s resprouted from the roots. What’s even more impressive is there’s more than one old trunk. I think deer are mulberry fans. Maybe grow a nice bed of lettuce to distract them?