The mulberry can feed you really well, yet this tree is largely neglected, might I even say, despised by some, because it can be a bit messy. Mulberries are only messy because they are such huge producers of tasty berries. Their fruit come in different shades, from almost black to almost red, as well as a white fruited version. Growing up in NJ, I have memories of stopping under mulberry trees to snack and acquire some moisture, by eating the fruit. I liked the red fruited ones best, and no doubt my Mom could always tell what’ I’d been up to, just by looking at my face.
The Bane and Blessing of the Mulberry is its Productivity
Most mulberries are productive, though some are more than others. I did find a wild mulberry near near my home, which produces very few berries. Also, it’s important to know that mulberries which come up from seed have about 50% chance of producing no fruit, as mulberry trees are usually dioecious, meaning that the entire plant is either male (producing pollen) or female (producing fruit). Additionally, a seedling takes about 6 years to come into fruit. So, if you want fruit more quickly, and especially if you want superior fruit, it’s a good idea to start with a proven, grafted tree. These usually start to produce in their second growing season. Mulberry trees grow quickly!
Mulberries definitely feed people!
We have an Illinois Everbearing Mulberry tree in our front yard. While it’s in production everyone in our family will visit that tree several times a day! The fruit is so good, it’s hard to get it to the house before it’s all gone. Mulberries vary in flavor, but all are sweet. Darker fruit tends to have more tang to it. The fruit makes wonderful pies and jams. Of all fruit trees on our place, the mulberry requires the least attention. It simply produces with almost no attention at all. But there is more to the mulberry than simply a delicious snack.
Mulberries feed poultry
Our chickens and ducks hang out under the mulberry tree. They adore the fruit. This is good, since there is a lot of fruit higher up than we can easily reach. It matures and falls to the ground, being converted into eggs and meat… Here’s a video showing some of our from under our tree.
Mulberries Can feed Hogs.
There was a time that folk used to plant mulberries to feed hogs, which free ranged under those trees. The hogs fattened on fallen fruit and, in the fall, they ate the leaves, as they dropped. At least one Southern variety has been nicknamed “Hog Tree“ and there is historical documentation how it, coupled with a hog, saved a Post Civil War family from starvation.
Mulberries can even feed fish.
I’ve heard of people planting mulberry trees on the edge of a pond, in which they raise fish, such as catfish, panfish or carp. The mature fruit would fall from the tree and be gobbled up by the fish. This is a natural, “lazy man’s method” of producing fish for protein.
Fall and Early Spring are a Good Time to purchase a Tree.
We paid about $27 for a 3′ Illinois Everbearing Mulberry. It was worth every penny! I’m working on grafting, in hopes of being able to reproduce more trees, more economically.