The weeping mulberry tree is also known by its botanical name of “Morus alba.” It is a member of the mulberry family known as, “Moraceae.” This deciduous tree is native to northern China but it can be found growing in North America and Asia. At one time the mulberry tree was used to produce fruit as well as silk worms, this is no longer the case. Weeping mulberry is a fast growing tree that is hardy in zones 5 through 8.
This lovely tree can be identified by its shape, and weeping branches. Some cultivars can grow to a height of 15 feet, and a spread of 8 to 15 feet. The leaves of the weeping mulberry are from 2 to 7 inches in length and can be 6 inches wide; they are simple, undivided or lobed, and generally dark green in color. Some cultivars bear fruit, while others are fruitless – the fruit attracts birds but can be extremely messy.
There are two major types of cultivars: Morus alba ‘Chaparral’, which is a male tree. This cultivar has shiny green leaves, and can reach a height of from 10 to 15 feet. The second major cultivar is Morus alba ‘Pendula’, which is a female tree that bears fruit. Pendula can reach a height of from 6 to 8 feet.
Plant the weeping mulberry tree in well drained soil, and full sun to partial shade. This tree adapts to most soils (acidic or alkaline). During the first few years after planting it will need to be watered on a regular basis, once it is established it will be fairly drought tolerant. The weeping mulberry has no serious pest or disease problems.
There are draw-backs to planting a mulberry tree. If you plant a female cultivar it will produce fruit, although the fruit attracts birds it is also extremely messy – staining sidewalks, and causing a mess in the lawn. This tree is also known for its strong surface roots. When planted near a sidewalk or driveway the roots will undermine the surface above them, and cause cracking. Cutting the lawn around a mulberry tree will also be a problem due to these surface roots.
As a Shade Tree
If you have a large backyard, and you would like to have a shaded area, then the weeping mulberry would be an excellent choice. (Be sure to purchase a cultivar that grows to a height of 15 feet.) In fact it is often compared to a weeping willow tree, which is also known as an excellent shade tree. Due to its size it really needs a large space, if planted in a small area you may perhaps have too much shade.