mulberry tree question

thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near NashvilleAugust 5, 2014

Hi friends. I have a small (3-4 ft tall) black beauty that I planted this spring as a single, bare root whip. I'm very impressed with how much and how fast it has grown, but I'm perplexed by HOW its grown and what, if anything, I should do about it. I hope I can explain what's going on (I've lost my camera!).....

Basically, it has sent up 4 (FOUR!) shoots that are almost identical in size and all are coming from below ground at or on the base of the original whip. Let me try to be clear...this is not like when you have little suckers that grow near the base of a tree. Or if that is what is going on they are doing it from below the ground AND are keeping up and in one case exceeding the length and girth of the original whip. All in all, this tree is growing in a way that, to me, looks more like a bush than a tree, if you know how some bushes have multiple trunks. In short, it looks like I took 4 small "whip" sized trees, held them in a bundle, and planted them touching in the same small hole.

I can only hope that someone is able to understand what I've just described! If so, the purpose of this post is to ask WHAT, IF ANYTHING, SHOULD I DO ABOUT IT? Specifically, should I cut all but one of the 4 upright growths or just let them all grow (or something else)? For all I know mulberry trees just grow like this with multiple "trunks". I have never had or even seen a mulberry to be honest. Thanks, in advance, for all your help.

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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

If the tree is grafted then I would remove the other suckers. It it is a rooted cutting I would allow the more aggressive shoot to grow.

I did find one picture that looks like what you describe but I don't think you want to let it grow this way.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:44PM
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thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

You sure did find a great photo of what I was trying to describe. I had a couple other people tell me that is just how mulberries grow, so I'm still a bit unsure of whether to cut it back to just one or let it have multiple trunks. But I do respect your opinion so I'll probably cut it back like a regular tree..Other opinions still welcomed/wanted. thanks

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 7:48PM
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First of all, can you tell if its a grafted tree? Do you see a spot on the trunk at the base where the original root stock was cut off and the scion grafted on? Are the leaves identical for the original whip and the new growth?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 8:24PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Good point, Fireballsocal. FWIW I have several mulberry rootstocks and the leaves are smaller and more slender. If the leaves are not the same on all the shoots then removing the suckers will be very important.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 1:15AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

The shape of the thing is your choice,but if the plant was mine,I'd wait until dormancy to prune,or maybe remove a little now.Mulberries bleed quite a bit when they are cut during the growing time.
I'm trying to keep mine in the bush form.It's easy with Morus nigra.My Black Beauty probably hasn't grown more than a foot since planting a couple years ago.Pakistan,Illinois Everbearing,Silk Hope or Wellington are a whole different story. Brady

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 1:49AM
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thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

The great responses you all have given have introduced new complications to my black beauty situation. First, when I examined the tree to look for a graft scar/bulge, I can't find one. There is one area that could be so I can't 100% rule it out, but I don't think my tree is grafted. Somehow that leaves me thinking I have a sub-standard tree, do you agree? I bought it from Willis Orchards, btw. If there is no graft, is it just a seedling? If so, does that mean its not going to be a good tree or a good black beauty? From my reading I've come to think that a good tree usually means a desired tree was grafted onto good rootstock, so if there is no graft I'm worried. Should I be?

2.) From what Bradybb said about his black beauty being a slow grower leaves me with even more doubts/concerns about my black beauty. Unlike yours(his), mine grows like a fact out of 53 fruit trees it is my #1 fastest grower. I am sure it is a mulberry (via leaf ID) but now doubt its a black beauty?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 11:48AM
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Maybe I'm a heathen (probably am), but I've never seen that one mulberry is particularly more desirable than another...they all seem pretty much the same to me.

Now maybe if one had fern type leaves or something, I'd think it was unique...but that's maybe just me.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 11:50AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Here are a few photos of my Black Beauty,Illinois Everbearing and Wellington.The fruit is plumper than a white/red and has more acidic mixed with the sweet.The space between the leaves is tighter.Brady

My Tree is Forked at the Base

The Foliage is Dense and the Fruit is Somewhat Hidden

Black Beauty Fruit

Illinois Everbearing


Illinois Everbearing Fruit

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 1:13PM
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I kinda, sorta wish my mulberry was like yours. Mine is a seedling and has grown HUGE even though I keep whacking it down.

I have only tasted my mulberry but it has OUTSTANDING sweet flavor! It's one of my fave fruits.

If I had your tree, I'd keep it a bush because mine needs a new taller ladder every year to harvest fruit :-)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 6:55PM
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To my understanding, there is no such thing as a seedling black mulberry, as the fruit is seedless and the trees are purely vegetative clones. So if what you have is black beauty and there is no obvious graft evidence, it must be cutting grown. All the grafted Black mulberry trees I have seen are very obvious since they make a pretty ugly thick scar tissue. The twigs of black mulberry are really thick too, way different from any other mulberry species.

And yes, dbarron, you are a heathen, a black mulberry is way different from any red or white mulberry! :)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 9:18AM
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thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

Thanks for all the great answers and especially Bradybb for the photos. They were a huge help and reassured me that I probably do have a black beauty since mine looks identical to the one in the photo. I think I'll remove 2 of the "suckers" which are a little smaller, and that will leave me with 2 which are identical in size and look exactly like Bradybb's double shown in the photo. my only fear is that this will one day result in the tree splitting at that fork? But since you let yours grow that way I'm going to assume its ok. Thanks again for the reassuring pics.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 9:40AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

I think it may take a lot to split,at least from the fruit load,since they weigh almost nothing,compared to something like an apple or a peach. Brady

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:16AM
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