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Mulberry – April 2012

By April 11, 2012No Comments

Mulberry (Morus)

This tree folk’s fingers and lips are purple from researching the featured tree of the month.  Mulberries are ripening right now and boy are they delicious.  Mulberries are deciduous trees or tall shrubs with a lovely round crown.  The leaves are broad oval or heart-shaped often with serrated margins and can be lobed or not.  Two species of mulberry occur in central Texas: Morus microphylla, aka Mountain mulberry or Texas mulberry, and Morus rubra (Red mulberry).  But to be quite honest, unless your looking at a really big shade tree (rubra has a short trunk and grows to 64 feet while microphylla stays a more diminutive size and is often multi-trunked) it is pretty difficult to distinguish between the two unless you’re a botanist or a mulberry farmer.  If you plant a mulberry on your property you’ll want to choose a site away from buildings and walkways as the fruit are very messy and the roots shallow, which can cause problems with underground utilities.  Mulberries are very popular with birds, children, and other wildlife.  Some of my fondest memories are of scrambling up the lower branches of a large mulberry planted in an empty lot to gorge on the sweet purple fruits.  Mulberry preserves are one of life’s great pleasures.  To harvest a nice crop lay a large sheet underneath the tree and send a young scamp up to bounce on the branches above or give it a good whack with a broom handle.  The ripe fruit easily falls from the tree.  Berries that are still red and tart are my favorite for eating out of hand.