Monday, March 3, 2014
The Mulberry Tree
Here is a tree I have yet to really write about but will more than likely prove itself of immense value around the Small-Hold either in a grid down situation or more than likely long term self sufficiency.
Now you might ask why I haven't really utilized this tree before and really I only have one excuse. My son eats every damned Mulberry he can get his hands on from about the time they just become ripe until they are gone. He will make trips out about the place picking them and eating as he goes and gather huge bowls of them for later. He even loves the unripe ones, which caused me some concern a few years ago when I read that unripe they sometimes have hallucinogenic properties. So far though he hasn't suffered any ill effects.
So between the Son and the Birds I have just never bothered to compete for the berries. I was content with knowing they were there and being able to put the hammer down on consumption if it was ever needed.
At one point we had at least 30 or more producing Mulberry trees along the edges of the property but today we are down to only about a dozen or so. Next to Boxelders these Mulberry trees are the variety I end up clearing out the most. They are literally everywhere except where you want them of course.
Supposedly Mulberry trees originated in three varieties. A White one from Asia, A Black one from Europe and a Red one in the Eastern US. I am pretty sure we have the Red variety here but to be honest with all the cross breeding and such it isn't always as easy to tell and we may have some early hybrid that got loose. As you can imagine birds love Mulberry trees and they tend to spread the seeds everywhere. Mostly these trees grow in the fence lines, against buildings and under the power lines which is why so many of them have been cleared out lately. I have three really good sized ones behind the barn I adjusted so I could keep them. The White variety was imported as food for some attempts at establishing silk worm production. Apparently the Asian silkworms only eat Mulberry leaves.
Mulberry trees have just no end of uses. From your standard fruit/berry food items like jams, jelly etc. to a tough yet flexible wood that makes excellent handles and small furniture. Despite being reported as a small tree I have seen some big examples and there is the remains of one out behind my bees hives that can rival some good sized Oaks in over all size. Reportedly the bark makes an excellent brown dye and the inner bark was used for basket weaving and paper making as well.
The down side is of course the purple bird droppings that get everywhere but I have only noticed this as being an issue when the tree is right over a driveway around here they are far enough out and away from things that I rarely have an issue with staining bird droppings.
Either that or my Son manages to beat the birds to all the berries.
As far as growth goes I have noticed Mulberry trees will grow extremely fast until they get to just above sapling status maybe about 15 foot tall or so and begin producing fruit then their growth slows way down. I believe all Mulberry trees naturally produce fruit as I have never noticed any type of male/female distinction in them or a barren type. As a firewood tree they aren't too bad and burn at a good pace, nothing to scoff at if you need to cut one down but my bet is when it really counts and you have them in your area you will want to keep as many of these trees producing as possible.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!