The Chinese raised mulberries for leaves to feed to their silkworms, and the Romans made a special effort to obtain them for fruit. While the silk industry did not take off in America, the mulberry endured as a favorite fruit tree.
In Southern Florida, most mulberries tend to bear in April or May. The long, narrow fruits range between 1 to 2 inches long. Mulberry fruits tend to crush if yanked off the tree, and the juice will stain skin, clothing, and more. This is an important consideration when you are choosing where to plant a mulberry tree. Do not plant it where the fruit will fall on anything that will stain, like a driveway, patio, or deck. Unwashed berries tend to have a short shelf life, even when refrigerated, but they can be frozen easily. Mulberries can be used like any other berry and made into jams, pies, spreads, and juices.
The mulberry also has the advantage of being an attractive tree, useful in landscaping. It is important to remember that it is a deciduous tree and will be without leaves throughout the winter.
Mulberries can become impressively large trees of over 50 feet tall. However, tree size can easily be kept in check by pruning. Also, resist the temptation to trim the lower branches. A good strategy is to keep the lower branches for harvesting and let the birds take care of the mulberries on the top of the tree. This makes for a nice arrangement if you are a fruit lover and a bird watcher. The birds are reported to enjoy mulberries so much that you need not worry about fruit dropped round the tree.
Have you ever tasted a mulberry? Do you have any favorite recipes? Share them in the comments below!
Stop by ECHO’s Global Nursery to get your own mulberry tree! The nursery is open Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm and Saturday 9:00am-4:00pm. Or shop online from our large selection of seeds, books, and memorabilia.