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Fruitless Mulberry Tree – The berries are the source of the difficulty in cultivating mulberry trees. They make a shambles of the ground under the trees and taint everything they come into touch with while doing so. Aside from that, the birds that consume the berries disperse the seeds, and the species has become invasive in its natural habitat. Fruitless mulberry trees (Morus alba ‘Fruitless’) are just as attractive as fruited mulberry trees, but they don’t produce the mess or have the potential to become invasive.
So, what exactly is a mulberry tree that does not bear fruit? A fruitless mulberry tree is a good option for medium to big shade trees in residential landscaping because of its lack of fruit. It may grow to be 20 to 60 feet (6-18 meters) tall, with a thick canopy stretching as far as 45 feet (14 meters) over the ground. This attractive tree has dark green foliage in the summer that turns yellow before dropping its leaves in the autumn.
The fruitless mulberry tree, also known as morus alba in botanical terms, is a genus comprising 10-16 species of deciduous trees that are native to North America. This non-bearing tree, also known as the male trees of the white mulberry, has been used as a main food source for silkworm larvae in China for more than 4,000 years and is considered to be the world’s oldest living organism. The silkworm has always been the primary source of energy for China’s historic textile industry, and it continues to do so even now, not just in China but also in many other Asian nations, including the United States.
The tree was planted in North America for the same reason it was introduced in Europe: to offer a natural food supply for a prospective silkworm business in the region. A beautiful alternative to fruiting mulberry trees, the tree’s elegant spreading branches have proven to be a popular choice for landscaping applications in spite of the fact that the intended industry never reached its full potential in the nation.
The fruitless variety of the mulberry is preferred over the fruit-bearing variety for a number of reasons, the most important of which are that it does not litter the ground with fallen berries, which have a tendency to stain the ground, and that the fallen berries are not eaten and the seeds dispersed by birds, which would otherwise cause the tree to become invasive.
The fruitless mulberry tree produces a thick and round-topped crown, and the tree itself may grow to be 20-60 feet tall and as broad as 45 feet in diameter, with a trunk that can be as large as 45 feet in diameter. A thick and dark canopy of foliage is produced as a consequence, and it makes an attractive addition to any landscape.
A drooping look like that of a giant creeper may be seen in certain variants of this plant. The juvenile limbs of the tree may have an orange tint to them, which fades away as the tree grows older and develops. However, when cultivated in a tropical environment, the tree may be both deciduous and evergreen, despite the fact that it is native to temperate areas.
While still a large tree, the fruitless species may be trained to have a central leader with a short, strong trunk and a crown formed by lateral branches, despite its height.. The leaves of the tree may grow up to 30 cm in length on new branches and are elaborately lobed in a circular pattern. Leaf length varies from 5-15 cm on older trees; they are unlobed and heart-shaped at the base, with serrated ends that thin and taper to a slender point.
How to Take Care of Fruitless Mulberry Tree
When planting fruitless mulberry trees, it is best to place the trees in full sun or moderate shade to maximize their yield. Plant the trees at least 6 feet (2 m) away from sidewalks, roads, and foundations, since their powerful roots have the potential to lift and fracture cement and concrete if they are planted too close.
The trees are tolerant of virtually any kind of soil, but they thrive in loamy, well-drained soil that drains well. Staking trees during their first year is beneficial. Young trees have a tendency to be top-heavy, and their trunks may be readily snapped in high winds. A stake left in place for more than a year may end up causing more damage than benefit.
Growing fruitless mulberry trees is simple due to the fact that the plants need minimal maintenance. The plant can survive both drought and floods for a long period of time if established, although it will grow more quickly if watered during dry periods.
The tree does not need fertilizer until the second year of its life. In the spring, a 2-inch-thick (5-cm-thick) layer of compost is excellent. Spread the compost beneath the canopy and a few feet (1 m.) beyond it to prevent weeds from growing. If you want to use a granular fertilizer instead, select one that has a 3:1:1 nutrient ratio or higher.
Taking cuttings of young or even old wood from this tree is a simple and effective method of propagation. They are rapid growers that are not picky about what they eat. They grow well in a wide range of soil types, but prefer soils with pH values ranging from 6.1 to 6.5. Heavy clay soils, on the other hand, should be avoided at all costs. These trees need full or partial light, and it has been found that they do not grow nearly as well in shadow as they do in full or partial sun. The fruitless mulberry prefers to be properly hydrated, but because of its drought resistance, it can survive periods of drought as well.
The roots of this mulberry tree are shallow and lateral in nature, rather than deep and extensive. This is a problem since roots have a natural inclination to gravitate towards a water supply, and because these are lateral roots, they will almost certainly attempt to get access to sewage and other water lines, most often by bursting through the walls of the pipes. Because of this, it is important to select a website with caution.
Root pruning is usually suggested for trees that are already established. Hire a specialist to examine the mulberry tree’s root structure and remove any unwanted roots that may be present. It is essential to hire experts since incorrect tree pruning may result in the tree dying prematurely.
Pay close attention to the fungus that often infects the undersides of the leaves, as well as the amount of water that is provided to the tree, to ensure that the lushness of your mulberry tree does not become yellow.
There are many different fruitless mulberry tree illnesses that may harm this tree. Some of the most common include mulberry leaf spot, which affects the leaves, and cotton root rot, which starts in the roots and causes the leaves to yellow. Treatment is available for both of these illnesses, but root rot may be more difficult to control.
Another reason for yellowing leaves is a lack of water being provided to the plant. Because the roots of this tree are shallow and prone to drying out fast, it is essential to water thoroughly and often.
Pruning a Fruitless Mulberry Tree
Barren mulberry tree care also includes the practice of pruning fruitless mulberry trees. Mature trees seldom need pruning, but you may need to shape young trees and remove or trim branches that are too near to the ground to keep them from drooping.
Mulberries are pruned most effectively in the winter, when the leaves have fallen. Any time of year is a good opportunity to prune away broken or unhealthy branches.
After the fruitless mulberry has lost its leaves, it is always a good idea to trim it. Pollard tree pruning is a method that is used specifically for this type of tree. Because the goal is to keep the tree’s trunk short and strong, this technique promotes the development of robust, leafy, lateral branching growth around the trunk of the tree.
Although this technique may be used on young trees, it should only be used on young trees since mature plants might be harmed as a result of the process. Most of the branches that are 1 to 2 inches from the main stem (the desired trunk) are removed using this technique, resulting in tightly spaced shoots that emerge laterally on the tree’s trunk.
Any additional branches that may shoot out farther down the trunk or away from the trunk should be pruned as well. If you do not wish to use this technique, you may give your tree an overall prune in the autumn, pruning away any branches that are out of shape, damaged, sick, or broken.
The main drawbacks of the fruitless mulberry tree are its very rapid growth, shallow lateral roots, and need for lots of water. However, if you can work around these issues, you will be rewarded with a wonderfully formed, dense, and shaded tree to adorn your landscape.