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How to Prune a Fruitless Mulberry Tree

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How to Prune a Fruitless Mulberry Tree

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Overview

The fruitless mulberry tree includes several species in the genus Morus. This tree is commonly found as a street tree and in other areas of the landscape that have long, hot summers. It is deciduous, and its canopy of bright green, lobed leaves makes it a good shade tree. The fruitless mulberry can attain a height of up to 60 feet. When the tree has lost all its leaves and goes into its dormant season in the winter, prune it severely every year or two using a technique called pollarding. When you pollard a tree such as the fruitless mulberry, you cut all of its branches back to the main trunk. In the spring and summer months, the tree will regrow new branches that can reach 15 to 20 feet in length.

Pruning a Fruitless Mulberry Tree

Step 1

Assess the magnitude of the pruning job before you begin. For trees that have not been pruned for over two years, consider hiring a professional tree trimmer for the job because it will be a big one.

Step 2

Cut the top off a young tree in early spring by cutting off all of its main branches. Do not top the tree again after it is older.

Step 3

Prune each branch close to the "knuckle" or branch collar where it connects to the main trunk after your tree is older. Do not cut off the swollen knuckle or collar.

Step 4

Paint each cut with a tar-based product that will protect the tree from disease and insect invasion if you desire, although this is not imperative. Differing opinions exist on the value of using pruning tar, so think before you do it because it can also cause microbes or insects to become sealed inside the tree.

Step 5

Load all cut branches into a large vehicle and dispose of them at your green waste facility or landfill. If you have a chipper/shredder, use the ground-up plant material as mulch, or add it to a compost pile.

Tips and Warnings

  • To be on the safe side, hire an arborist to pollard your fruitless mulberry tree. Always use extreme caution when using tools such as the chainsaw, especially when you must climb a ladder to reach the area you will be cutting. Pollarding is used primarily to keep a tree from becoming too large for the area in which it has been planted. If you choose to pollard your tree, you must do it every year or two at the most because otherwise the tree will develop "weak crotch angles" that allow moisture to enter. This can result in the tree rotting.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Large loppers or chainsaw
  • Protective eye ware
  • Gloves
  • Pruning tar (optional)
  • Truck or other large vehicle for disposing of branches

References

  • UC Davis
  • New Mexico State University
  • Garden Gate magazine

Who Can Help

  • UC Davis wiki
  • Pruning tar
Keywords: fruitless mulberry, Morus alba, pruning trees

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.