How to Kill a Mulberry Tree
Mulberry is a species of tree with cultivars that are native to both North America and Asia. The trees produce sweet purple berries that can stain anything they touch. In areas where mulberry owners can't harvest the plants, the berries may create unexpected stains. In addition, berries that are spread from seed in bird droppings can create mulberry sprouts in unwanted areas. If you cut down a mulberry tree, you may still have to contend with shoots from the roots for years. Killing a mulberry tree through stem girdling will destroy the roots and prevent shoots from popping up later.
Cut a ring into the tree’s trunk that encircles the tree completely, using an axe. On mulberry trees less than 4 inches in diameter, this cut should be ½ inch deep and ½ inch wide. On larger mulberry trees, the cut should be 1 ½ inches wide and 1 ½ inches deep into the tree. The mulberry bark should be fully severed to completely interrupt the tree’s vascular system.
Make a second girdling cut 2 inches up the tree from the first cut.
Spray the trunk of the tree with an herbicide that contains 2,4-D.
Observe the tree to determine when it has died. When the wood is gray and the canopy no longer produces leaves, the tree is dead and is safe to remove.
Mature Mulberry Tree Care
The white mulberry (Morus alba) is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3b to 9; the red mulberry (Morus rubra) is hardy in USDA plant hardiness zone 5, while the more delicate black mulberry (Morus nigra) is hardy only in USDA plant hardiness zone 7. All mulberry varieties require full sun and lots of space to grow. Mature mulberry trees usually thrive with minimal fertilization. If your mulberry tree is not showing signs of new growth, but is otherwise healthy and not showing signs of stress, such as reduced or stopped fruit production or browning foliage, an application of nitrogen may be all that's needed. Most mature mulberry trees require the removal of lower branches every few years to maintain their shape, but because the branches are often trained to a sturdy framework early on, mature mulberry trees need limited annual pruning. Pruning should be done in winter, after the leaves have fallen and when there will be limited bleeding because the plant is dormant. To control popcorn disease, collect and burn infected fruits. Mulberry trees may also suffer from a bacterial leaf spot that may lead to dieback of foliage and branches.
Wear protective clothing and breathing protection when applying an herbicide.
- Ohio State University Extension: Controlling Undesirable Trees, Shrubs, and Vines in Your Woodland
- University of California Extension: Fruitless Mulberry Tree
- Royal Horticultural Society: Mulberries
- Texas A&M University: Red Mulberry, Moral, Lampasas Mulberry
- University of Florida Extension: Morus alba fruitless cultivars
- California Rare Fruit Growers: Mulberry
- University of California Cooperative Extension: Fruitless Mulberry Tree
- North Carolina State University Extension: Mulberry
- Cornell University: Minor Fruits: Mulberry