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The Morus Nigra Tree or the Black Mulberry, is an attractive, deciduous tree which can also be managed as a shrub. Its origins are in South Western Asia. Originally brought to Britain by the Romans, it was soon widely imported by James I who was looking to establish a silk industry. Unfortunately, the intended silk worm only feeds on the White Mulberry, Morus Alba. Its legacy as old Black Mulberry remains in historic landscapes and gardens throughout Britain.
The Morus Nigra Tree is characterised by very bright green leaves, heart shaped, with a serrated looking edge making it a unique decorative addition. The gnarly bark gives even younger trees an old and historic appearance. The fruits emerge throughout the summer time, ripening to a deep purple in colour and loganberry-like in appearance. When mature, the Black Mulberry has a spreading, rounded shape giving it wide appeal in landscape architecture.
The edible fruit of this tree has a unique rich flavour. Actual fruiting may not begin until 8-9 years after planting. Harvest season for the fruit is over a relatively short window of time between August and September.
This tree or shrub will tolerate most soil conditions, preferring a lighter well drained soil. Moisture is critical in the first few years of establishment. It is an extremely long lived plant which will spread almost as wide as it grows tall. It is a great addition to a garden, bringing not only a beautiful plant but a conversation piece that includes its deep history.
The Black Mulberry Tree is also suited to vertical gardens along walls and fences if managed and trained properly.
Growing to a mature height between 3-7m and as wide as 10m, Morus Nigra prefers an open and sunny area. It is very hardy across the UK and is generally easy to grow. Training is important, so as to create a well-formed tree more quickly. Leave plenty of room for it to spread, usually 5-10m in diameter for the tree to develop. They prefer good fertility and moisture in a light and well drained texture. Staking as a tree will prevent wind-rock and lead to good roots.
Mulberries can be grown in containers if managed well with careful watering, the use of a good loam-based compost blend, and repotting to slightly larger containers each year.
Fertilizer applied in late winter, followed by a mulch rich in organic matter in the spring will optimize growth, flower set, and fruiting.
In the open garden, grow and train formative pruning as a standard or half-standard tree. Prune when fully dormant; about a month after leaves have fallen.