The mulberry tree produces a small fruit that looks like a berry. The mulberry can be eaten raw, cooked into jam or used for pies and tarts alone or combined with other fruits. This fruit ripens from spring to summer and grows on deciduous trees. Gardeners wishing to try mulberry in their home landscape have a variety of trees to consider.
Fruiting mulberry trees come in three types: white mulberry, or Morus alba, black mulberry, or Morus nigra and red mulberry, or Morus rubra. California Rare Fruit Growers notes that hybrid varieties exist that were created by crossing red and white mulberries. The white mulberry is native to China and east Asia and the black mulberry is native to west Asia. The red mulberry is native to North America.
Mulberry trees vary greatly in size, depending on the type. The smallest tree is the black mulberry, which tops out at 30 feet and often remains shrub-sized. The red mulberry can reach 70 feet and the white mulberry can grow up to 80 feet.
Mulberry trees need full sun for maximum fruit production and require at least 15 feet of space between trees. Mulberries grow well in deep loam and need a well-draining soil to prevent root rot. While mulberries have some natural drought resistance, the trees need water during drought periods to avoid dropping fruit.
The British brought the white mulberry tree to America from China in the 1700s as part of an attempt to establish a silk industry. Silkworms feed on mulberry leaves. However, their effort was unsuccessful.
White mulberry cultivars that do not produce fruit are referred to as fruitless mulberries. These trees make popular landscape plants since they do not produce messy berried. Red mulberry trees are generally avoided in the home landscape since the fruits stain sidewalks or driveways when they fall. No fruitless red mulberries are available, just white, notes that University of Florida.