Is this a mulberry plant and would you keep it?

grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)June 26, 2013

Hi everyone,

LAST spring this little seedling popped up in this pot with a variegated Aloe brevifolia in it. Even though I only water the aloe when it's quite dry, the little seedling survived last summer, last winter, and is now actively growing again.

It's large enough that it's time to decide what to do with it this autumn (don't worry, I wouldn't dig or transplant it at this time of year, LOL).

So I have two questions, do you think, as I do, that it's a mulberry seedling? There are no mulberries that I know within several miles of my house, but I do know birds eat and drop the fruit/seed. It sure looks like a mulberry baby to me (Wilson the tennis ball included to show size). What do you think?

Second, if it IS a mulberry, would you keep it??? I must admit, I'm reallyl impressed with its hardiness and durability with hot sun, little water, and a record breaking winter, and yet it looks great. Would you keep it? I know the fruit is messy, but I'm actually tempted to keep it as I love trees that make good fruit here.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on a possible ID, and then if it is a mulberry, would you take pity and grow it on?

Thanks for the discussion either way. I love coming to the forum to chat with everyone!

Happy gardening,

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics from my garden June 2013

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Grant, I don't think it's a mulberry . All the mulberry trees that i know in Az are of the fruitless variety. I remembered the fruited type that I saw in CA has much less serated leaves. This plant resembles a bush to me, not a tree. Is it a deciduous ? I would not keep it. Hey, did you ever get an aloe brother for your A. Hercules ? I got two A. Pillansii from ebay last month. They are in the ground under light shade cloth....NO Water! ...let you know in a year...Nick

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 1:54AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ


    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 7:32AM
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This is definitely a mulberry. Of course you may not know if its male or female for quite a while. I love the mulberry fruits - used to eat them when I was a kid off the tree by the irrigation headgate. I'm sure my mom didn't appreciate the purple stains though.

They do take a lot of water, but can handle our heat. Subject to sooty canker if overpruned.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mulberry (Morus alba)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 12:54PM
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euqruob(Phoenix, AZ)

All mulberries in AZ are fruitless?

Gee, all that wonderful fruit I got from 2 varieties of trees must have been a mirage all these years.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 1:53AM
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I have a Mulberry at my place that is the fruiting variety but the leaves do not look like this, perhaps this is a different cultivar.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 4:14PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Grant, it may be a mulberry, but if it is (and I'm not convinced), it will most likely *not* grow true to form. I've had so many mulberries pop up from seed and none of them grow like the real tree. And it may or may not produce berries. If you decide to keep it, my advice is to put it in a pot and watch it grow. If you like the form, great, but if it turns out to be a scraggly critter like many in my yard have, you can dispose of it.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 10:11PM
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euqruob(Phoenix, AZ)

The fruiting mulberry tree I have is a traveler, It appeared when my father had the house, he thought it was a Hibiscus. Glad I kept it, I've had lots of tasty mulberries for the last 3 years.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 1:23AM
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It is a mulberry, but as mentioned before, you won't know for sure if it will have berries or not for several years. So if you like the tree and don't care whether you get fruit or not, then transplant it....they do get VERY big though. Now IF you were going to want one for berries, then chuck that one and buy a good variety, like Oscar or Pakistan! :-)


    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 10:21AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

I made a survey of the pop-ups in my yard and sure enough, one has leaves just like that. It's amazing how different leaves can appear from one tree to another. I stand by my statement on the growth pattern of volunteers. Not one of mine has a straight trunk and nothing approaching a symetrical canopy.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:44AM
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Looks nothing like the weeping mulberry I had :)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 12:06PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

That's cause weeping mulberry is a totally different tree - or bush as it most often appears. I love this tree and would take it anytime over a regular mulberry. Gorgeous. Btw, did you have that tree in Phoenix?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 8:07PM
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Centurion_(Verde Valley AZ Z8)

If I had it I would definately grow it just to see what it was.

If you want mulberries though, I have to agree with one of the above posts. Buy a known cultivar from a nursery if you're growing it for fruit.

So many varieties are "fruitless", and many of the fruiting varieties don't produce desireable fruit.

Interestingly enough, mulberry trees are very difficult to find in Arizona nurserys. They make great shade trees, but male trees produce a pollen that a lot of people are allergic to, and many Phoenix area communities have actually banned them as new plantings.

I found this out when I was researching for a couple of varieties for my backyard orchard. Most nurseries do not carry them here, and if you ask, many will tell you that they cannot sell them.

There are even a couple of online nurseries who refuse to ship them to Arizona (Fast Growing Trees is one of them) for that very reason.

As I understand it, the fruiting trees (and many varieties are self fruiting, meaning you don't need a pollenator), do not produce this pollen, so it's really not an issue.

But once a tree gets a bad rap by a government agency know bureaucrats...

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:47PM
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Centurion_(Verde Valley AZ Z8)

Sorry. My computer is pulling it's nightly "slow drag", or I would have posted a couple of links.

So if you are having trouble believing my previous post (I would have six months ago), google "mulberry trees banned Arizona" and check out all the articles.

But the best of my knowledge...most of the fruiting trees do not produce this pollen and there was no need to ban them.

So if you want may have to buy it from out of state, like I did.

And hide it somewhere in your back yard. Tell your neighbors it's an Egyptian Loganberry tree. Or something.....:-)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 12:09AM
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I'd get rid of it. 50:50 its a male. You won't be happy if it is and neither may the city.

Fruit (if any) (female) almost always sucks from a seedling. If you want a fruiting mulberry buy a known cultivar you like or find someone with a tree you like and pot up some cuttings.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cultivating Mulberry tree

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 5:31PM
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Tomatofreak, yup that's the one I had but it was in Fort Lauderdale. I kept it trimmed up more as a standard. It grew from a since one 12" inch cutting into at least the size of the one in your picture in about one year :)

Wish I had brought cuttings with me :(

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 6:46PM
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Centurion_(Verde Valley AZ Z8)

Thank you for that link, Facist_Nation.

A few of us tried to root mulberry cuttings earlier this year and failed. Only...we used cuttings which had been stripped of leaves. That may have been the issue.

When my project failed I had a little tree shipped from out of state. With shipping, I think it cost around 50 bucks.

Next time....

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 7:38PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Thanks for all of the great replies and the fun discussion. You all are why I LOVE our forum! I was 99% sure it was a mulberry and now I really am. I knew of course, like my orange tree I've grown from seed, that it would be a spin of the old genetic wheel of fortune in terms of quality of plant or fruit, or leaf shape (they really DO vary, don't they? I've noticed that too). What I didn't know at all, was that males and females are on separate individuals. No bueno, LOL. I've heard that they're banned by many local and regional governments because of the pollen issue.

I am amazed at how well it has taken the heat and low water regime it's on (after all, it's in a pot with an ALOE, LOL), but if there's a 50% chance of it being male, and then a high chance that IF it's a female the fruit won't be very good, there's no way I'm going to invest too much in it. I may just leave it as-is and see what happens.

Buuuut, now your'e all giving me a craving for mulberry fruit, LOL, those of you who grow them and get fruit, are you just growing a female and hoping there's a male nearby (I know the pollen is tiny and airborne, which helps it travel on the wind to female trees and people with allergies, hah!). I'd love to hear more, or are you all growing self-fruitful types?

Anyway, thanks so much for taking the time to reply to me, and each other, and for the helpful links. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with it, but I know I'm not going to invest a prime spot and a bunch of time and water on it for a low chance of quality fruit.

thanks, Thanks, Thanks!
Happy gardening, you all are THE BEST!

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics from my garden June 2013

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 8:45PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Everything you always wanted to know about mulberries but didn't know where to start. Amazing. I've taken them for granted ever since I stained my fingers - and feet - with purple juice when I was a kid. I love mulberries, but unless you want to deal with a *lot* of squishy fruit on the soles of your shoes, you might opt for a different fruit tree. ;o)

Here is a link that might be useful: All about mulberries

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 9:03PM
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It looks to me like a white mulberry (obviously can't tell if male or female) BUT it looks exactly like the rootstock on which my Black Beauty mulberry is grafted. SO, if I was you, I would plant it in the ground, and try my luck at grafting a few branches from a known cultivar onto it and hope one of them takes. The white mulberry rootstock is very good at surviving our extreme climate. If you can figure out the grafting part, you're welcome to cuttings from my Black Beauty tree.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 4:24PM
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Really. It looks like a fig to me and with some cool leaves. If you are not going to keep it, I'd take it to see what it turns out to be. I hope u keep it though and update plus on what fruit you get.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 11:55AM
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Centurion_(Verde Valley AZ Z8)

Grant, mulberry trees are, as I understand it, self fruitful. Meaning they don't require another tree as a pollinator to bear fruit.

Check out some on line nurseries. There are several varieties...any of which will thrive in our heat.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 2:52PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Thanks, Centurion, I appreciate the information! I was driving around some of the older neighborhoods in Tempe yesterday, just north of ASU and there are still lots of yards with big giant mulberry trees in them. It's so fun to see the variety of leaf shapes. I don't know what I'm doing to do with mine, but its durability (survived me being out of town for 5 days two weeks ago (see San Antonio thread, LOL) just fine). Happy gardening all! Grant

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 2:31PM
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