Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

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IvanV
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Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by IvanV » Tue Jun 22, 2021 4:40 pm

Google is not helping me very much with this question. Most info is from the US, where the types of mulberry grown are mostly dioecious (male and female flowers on separate trees), and they can expect crops of over 100kg per tree, well beyond my definition of "good crop" of about 5kg.

The black mulberry tree, Morus nigra, which I have, has both male and female flowers on the same tree, at least in English growing conditions. It's about 20-25 years old and I've been getting about 5kg a year off it for the last decade or so.

Last year, it had lots of flowers on it and I was looking forward to a good crop. But I soon spotted they were predominantly male flowers, and the crop was really poor. I put it down to the weird spring weather. But this year it has done the same, and the weather has been quite different.

Now I know that we should leave people to express their gender as they choose. But I don't think crop plants can enjoy that luxury if they don't want an axe taken to them. Disappointing fruit trees do eventually get cut down in my garden. But that would be a last resort as they take several years to mature and crop.

Any ideas why my mulberry tree might have decided to be so macho, and how I might persuade it to express its feminine side a bit more?

It's important. My sister has admitted that she comes around to meals mainly in the hope of getting mulberry ice cream.

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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by Nero » Tue Jun 22, 2021 4:45 pm

I have zero useful help to add.

However I think you've just won 🏆 best thread title of the year. Applause.

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Grumble
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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by Grumble » Tue Jun 22, 2021 4:57 pm

Surely this is one for gardeners question time?
You’ve got no chutzpah, your organisational skills are lacklustre and your timekeeping is abysmal.

Chris Preston
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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by Chris Preston » Wed Jun 23, 2021 10:00 am

Back mulberry can change sex if they get stressed. Perhaps you are looking after it too well, so it is revelling in being male. Give it a strongest prune (not too strong or you won't get fruit next year as you need some second year wood) and it might get man flu and produce some female flowers.
Here grows much rhubarb.

IvanV
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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by IvanV » Wed Jun 23, 2021 10:43 am

Thanks.

It's actually had a heavier prune than usual the last couple of years, so maybe that's the problem. So maybe I should try a light prune this winter.

I try to keep it to a constant size, as there's not much point having berries you can't get to. And it would grow a good half a metre a year if you let it. I've also trained it into a weeping formation so that I can pick most of the fruit from the ground, or standing on some boughs in the middle where I've kept it open in the middle to allow easy standing there. But I'd let it get gradually bigger, and also it grew strongly last year in the warmth, so I was trying to get it back to where I wanted.

I'm aware that it needs some second year wood to fruit. It's used as a street tree, for the shade of its large leaves, in some Mediterranean places. They cut it back to the trunk so they don't get any berries to make a mess in the street.

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:21 pm

Have you tried changing the way you wash your face / comb your hair / brush your teeth / put on your clothes, on a cold and frosty morning?
He has the grace of a swan, the wisdom of an owl, and the eye of an eagle—ladies and gentlemen, this man is for the birds!

IvanV
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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by IvanV » Wed Jun 23, 2021 7:04 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:21 pm
Have you tried changing the way you wash your face / comb your hair / brush your teeth / put on your clothes, on a cold and frosty morning?
That's for mulberry bushes, whatever they are. Mine's a tree.

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:02 pm

IvanV wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 23, 2021 7:04 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:21 pm
Have you tried changing the way you wash your face / comb your hair / brush your teeth / put on your clothes, on a cold and frosty morning?
That's for mulberry bushes, whatever they are. Mine's a tree.
If you're trimming it to within arm's reach, it's a bush ;)

(I'm an ornithologist not a botanist)
He has the grace of a swan, the wisdom of an owl, and the eye of an eagle—ladies and gentlemen, this man is for the birds!

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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by IvanV » Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:23 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:02 pm
If you're trimming it to within arm's reach, it's a bush ;)
When standing 5m off the ground on some boughs I access by ladder.

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shpalman
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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by shpalman » Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:24 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:02 pm
IvanV wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 23, 2021 7:04 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:21 pm
Have you tried changing the way you wash your face / comb your hair / brush your teeth / put on your clothes, on a cold and frosty morning?
That's for mulberry bushes, whatever they are. Mine's a tree.
If you're trimming it to within arm's reach, it's a bush ;)

(I'm an ornithologist not a botanist)
Assess the worth of a bird in it to figure out whether it's a bush or not.
molto tricky

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Grumble
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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by Grumble » Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:50 pm

I didn’t even know mulberries had fruit, I thought we just fed them to caterpillars.
You’ve got no chutzpah, your organisational skills are lacklustre and your timekeeping is abysmal.

Lydia Gwilt
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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by Lydia Gwilt » Thu Jun 24, 2021 8:40 am

When available, mulberries are divine. They are to all other tree fruit what champagne is to fizzy lemonade. Availability does seem to be the difficulty: here it flowers too early, sets fruit nicely and then gets blasted by the end-of-Spring ice storm. I live in hope, however.

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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by IvanV » Thu Jun 24, 2021 9:15 am

Grumble wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:50 pm
I didn’t even know mulberries had fruit, I thought we just fed them to caterpillars.
Plainly as a flowering plant, it will produce some kind of fruit or other seed container. But you were apparently unaware that they were edible and desirable. They are almost impossible to pick without staining juice going everywhere, and they have a very short shelf-life, so they are impractical to trade, at least in this country. Picking is also time-consuming in comparison, say, to raspberries, because they berries tend to hide and be thinly spread. Although people talk of laying out sheets and shaking the tree, and that might even be sensible in places where the trees produce 100kg+ of fruit, I find I have to hand-pick them. Some fall off easily, but not many.

Dried mulberries are traded in places like Iran and India, though they are from different species. Maybe there is a trade in the US where you can pick by shaking the tree.

Although in the fig family, it has a fruit that looks like a blackberry. In French and Spanish at least, they use the same word for the fruit of mulberries and blackberries, resulting in confused discussions when I have brought some of my mulberry jam into the office, among French- and Spanish-speaking colleagues.

I think they were introduced to Britain specifically to feed silkworms, but I don't think silk production was terribly successful in this country. The mulberry tree is usually the last plant in the garden to leaf out in the spring. With the cold May this year, it didn't leaf out until the beginning of June this year. So you'd have a narrow window of time to feed your silk worms. It also seems that they didn't appreciate British weather during the "little ice age" and were inclined to die in cold winters. It may be, like a lot of plants that come from places with hot summers, that they are hardier if well ripened during the summer.

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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by tom p » Thu Jun 24, 2021 1:00 pm

IvanV wrote: ↑
Thu Jun 24, 2021 9:15 am
Grumble wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:50 pm
I didn’t even know mulberries had fruit, I thought we just fed them to caterpillars.
Plainly as a flowering plant, it will produce some kind of fruit or other seed container. But you were apparently unaware that they were edible and desirable. They are almost impossible to pick without staining juice going everywhere, and they have a very short shelf-life, so they are impractical to trade, at least in this country. Picking is also time-consuming in comparison, say, to raspberries, because they berries tend to hide and be thinly spread. Although people talk of laying out sheets and shaking the tree, and that might even be sensible in places where the trees produce 100kg+ of fruit, I find I have to hand-pick them. Some fall off easily, but not many.

Dried mulberries are traded in places like Iran and India, though they are from different species. Maybe there is a trade in the US where you can pick by shaking the tree.

Although in the fig family, it has a fruit that looks like a blackberry. In French and Spanish at least, they use the same word for the fruit of mulberries and blackberries, resulting in confused discussions when I have brought some of my mulberry jam into the office, among French- and Spanish-speaking colleagues.

I think they were introduced to Britain specifically to feed silkworms, but I don't think silk production was terribly successful in this country. The mulberry tree is usually the last plant in the garden to leaf out in the spring. With the cold May this year, it didn't leaf out until the beginning of June this year. So you'd have a narrow window of time to feed your silk worms. It also seems that they didn't appreciate British weather during the "little ice age" and were inclined to die in cold winters. It may be, like a lot of plants that come from places with hot summers, that they are hardier if well ripened during the summer.
You think correctly (about the silkworm food & failure thereof).
Also, mulberry molasses is sometimes available from a good Turkish grocers & it's divine.
As for muberry bushes, I have one. It's a dwarf mulberry tree, gives a small amount of fruit, but it's easy to get to. Importantly, none of my family, nor the local birds, like the mulberries, so these heavenly fruit are mine, all mine.

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bolo
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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by bolo » Thu Jun 24, 2021 1:35 pm

IvanV wrote: ↑
Thu Jun 24, 2021 9:15 am
Maybe there is a trade in the US where you can pick by shaking the tree.
Not commonly, anyway. But the berries do fall off in multitudes, no shaking even required, and make a huge mess on the ground underneath. Also the birds feast on them and poop pink and purple all over everything. Never park under a mulberry tree.

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Re: Reforming excess machismo in a mulberry tree

Post by Lydia Gwilt » Thu Jun 24, 2021 2:46 pm

My parents bought a new pale blue carpet before hosting the dinner to meet Mr Gwilt's family the night before our wedding. But all the guests walked under the mulberry tree before entering the house. The results were ... spotty, purple spotty. And permanent.
The lasting lesson learnt was don't host your in-laws.

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