Best grown in rich, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun. Prune in late fall or winter to avoid bleeding. Tolerates heat, drought and a somewhat wide range of soils, including alkaline ones. Shallow rooted.
Morus alba, commonly called white mulberry is native to China. It is a rounded, fast-growing, deciduous tree that typically grows to 30-50’ tall and as wide. It usually develops a wide-spreading crown with age. The leaves of this tree have been used in China since at least 2600 B.C. as the primary diet for silkworms used to make silk. Trees were introduced into North America in colonial times in an effort to establish a silk industry. Although the industry never took hold, the trees did take hold and have over time escaped cultivation and naturalized in fields, waste areas, forest margins and along roads throughout much of the U.S. This tree has also been planted in various areas for erosion control and windbreaks. White mulberry is usually dioecious (separate male and female trees), but sometimes is monoecious. Small yellowish-green flowers in drooping catkins bloom in spring (March-April). Fertilized flowers on female trees are followed by sweet, edible blackberry-like fruits (cylindrical drupes to 1” long) that mature in June. Fruits ripen to white or pink, but sometimes to darker reds or purple-blacks. Fruits are loved by birds. Glossy, rounded, usually 2-3 lobed (but sometimes unlobed), dark green leaves (to 8” long) have serrate margins and uneven (sometimes cordate) bases. Glossy leaf surfaces distinguish this tree from red mulberry. Fall color is an unattractive yellow (sometimes green, yellow and brown).
Genus name comes from the Latin name.
Specific epithet comes from the Latin word meaning white in reference to fruit color.
'Chaparral' is a dwarf, deciduous tree which features weeping foliage. It is usually top-grafted to a standard white mulberry about 6' off the ground, thus producing a 6-8' tall tree with an equal or wider spread wherein all branches and foliage weep to the ground.
No serious insect or disease problems. Borers may be a problem particular in the South. Whiteflies mass on some trees. Bacterial blight may kill foliage/branches. Coral spot cankers may cause twig dieback. Bacterial leaf scorch, powdery mildew and root rot may also occur. Watch for scale, mites and mealybugs. Messy fruit may be a concern.
Dwarf size and weeping foliage are the main reasons for growing this interesting and unusual white mulberry. At the Children's Garden at the Kemper Center, two top-grafted trees have been planted approximately 5' apart, and the weeping foliage has been trained to form a flat-topped, tent-like play house for children (the weeping foliage hangs to the ground to form the sides, but is intertwined at the top between the trees to form a canopy). A good small specimen tree.