A slow growing but very ornamental tree, the mulberry can be cultivated in gardens for its delicious edible fruit. Trees fruit well in southern and south-western Britain but they require the protection of a wall further north if the fruit is to ripen.
This is a good tree for growing grapes into. It means that the grapes are difficult to pick, but they always seem to be healthier and free from fungal diseases.
The mulberry has a long history of medicinal use in Chinese medicine, almost all parts of the plant are used in one way or another.
A fibre used in weaving is obtained from the bark.
A red-violet to dark purple dye is obtained from the fruit. A yellow-green dye is obtained from the leaves.
Wood - used in joinery.
Mulberries have brittle roots and so need to be handled with care when planting them out. Any pruning should only be carried out in the winter when the plant is fully dormant because mulberries bleed badly when cut. Ideally prune only badly placed branches and dead wood.
Succeeds in a variety of soils, though it prefers a warm well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position. Plants are fairly wind-resistant, though the branches are often killed back when growing in strong maritime exposure.
Prefers a warm moist but well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered sunny position. Prefers a light soil. Plants are very tolerant of atmospheric pollution. Trees are hardy as far north as southern Sweden.
The seed germinates best if given 2 - 3 months cold stratification. Sow the seed in Autumn, or in February in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in the first spring, though it sometimes takes another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts.
Fruit - raw, cooked or used in preserves. A delicious slightly acid flavour, it makes an excellent dessert fruit and can be eaten in quantity. The fruit is juicy and refreshing, though it must be used as soon as it is ripe (from mid-August to September) otherwise it will start to rot. The fruit falls from the tree as soon as it is fully ripe. It is best, therefore, to grow the tree in short grass to cushion the fall of the fruit but to still make it possible to find and harvest. The fruit can also be dried and ground into a powder. The fruit is up to 25mm in diameter.