Mulberry Tree (Morus): A Small Guide for Garden Enthusiasts


Mulberry trees is one of the most popular deciduous trees in the Greek landscape, due to the wonderful shade offered by its foliage. It belongs to the family Moracae and the genus Morus (of the Moreae).  Since its introduction to Greece in ancient times, it has been known by the names Sycaminia, Xinomouria and Mournia. It is a fast-growing tree, found in streets, yards, parks, in the city and of course in villages. In addition to being ornamental, mulberry trees bear delicious and healthy fruits (considered superfood), excellent wood for furniture making, and leaves that are ideal food for silkworms. The ornamental tree is one of the leading shade trees in landscape architecture, since its branches can be shaped to create a natural trellis.


It is found in varieties that bear fruit and others that do not, such as the ornamental mulberry. This species does not bear fruit, while its leaves are similar in shape to those of the plane tree, hence its name. It is less expansive than the fruit trees and is often shorter in height (up to 18 meters). In other words, it is the ‘tidiest’ species and suitable for places where cleanliness is of great importance, such as hotels, garages and pavements.

The most widespread fruiting mulberries in the Mediterranean are the black or common mulberry (Morus nigra) and the white mulberry (Morus alba). The former originates from the Caspian Sea regions and grows up to 8 m high (the shortest). It has dark green leaves, with a large width and fuzz on the underside. The berries it produces are naturally dark in color and are the most delicious, being sweet. Their ripening period is July-August, when they have acquired a very dark red color.

On the other hand, the white mulberry tree originates from China and reaches up to 24 meters. Its foliage is more elongated and glossier, with a light green color. The fruits have a striking white color, which can sometimes turn slightly red. The fruits of the white mulberry are sourer and therefore not so much used for eating, but they are excellent food for silkworms, as the leaves of the black mulberry made the silk coarser.

Other popular varieties are the red mulberry (Morus rubra), particularly widespread in northeastern Europe, and the low, ornamental, low-growing creeping mulberry (Morus pendula), where the leaves point towards the ground.

Morus nigra

Soil and climatological conditions

The mulberry tree is such a beloved tree, not only for its beauty and the memories it evokes, as it reminds many of us of our village or holidays in the countryside, but also for its excellent resistance to particularly harsh conditions, where other trees do not manage so successfully. As far as the soil is concerned, mulberry trees have no particular preferences and grow successfully in dry soils with high levels of salinity. If, of course, it is found in fertile soil, with high organic matter and good drainage, the results are impressive. Although mulberry loves the sun, it can withstand both cold and snow. Finally, it is no coincidence that it is widely used in urban landscapes as it is one of the trees with the highest resistance to atmospheric pollution.


Mulberry has a good resistance to drought. Of course, watering in the summer months should not be omitted, so that the foliage is lush and the fruit is plentiful and juicy.


Important cultivation care is the pruning of mulberry trees. As a deciduous tree, sycamore is pruned in mid-winter (January-February), when the tree is dormant and its sap is not circulating. Remember, however, that depending on the usefulness we want the tree to have, the more severe or light the pruning will be. If we are interested in the foliage, for example, the pruning should be severe and, as a consequence, the production of berries will be less. On the other hand, if fruit production is the main objective, it is recommended that pruning should be limited. This is the reason why severe pruning is observed in the sidewalk tree rows, as the tree’s interest is focused on shade. Still, severe pruning is also done in the white mulberry tree, where we want high leaf production for silkworms. As far as age is concerned, a small mulberry tree is pruned in the first three years in such a way that it takes the desired shape. In this case, we make sure that the stems start from a height of about 1.5 meters, while the number of branches should not exceed 5, in order to form a round or spreading shape. Finally, an admonition for the lazier tree lovers is not to leave the mulberry tree untended for very long periods, as this will result in a large height, with dense but very weakened shoots, which is not what we want. Besides, pruning increases our physical condition! Of course, as we’ve learned in the article about fig trees, after pruning we smear with a special pruning paste to prevent fungi and bacteria from attacking our tree.


Finally, the fertilization factor is also dependent on the use of the tree. Fertilizers with a higher nitrogen content in late winter (when the very cold weather is over) lead to more vigorous foliage, while potassium fertilizers lead to more fruit bearing.


As far as diseases are concerned, mulberry trees are very resistant to fungi and insects. However, its biggest enemy is the aphids. In recent years, infestations of the wood-eating insect Xylotrechus chinensis have occurred. The larvae of this insect enter the trunk and open galleries, leading to problems in the transport of water and nutrients.

Bonus Tip

And a bonus tip for the readers who made it this far, to say that if you eat berries you will be especially happy with the following, as berries have vitamin C, K, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron. They are highly anti-cancer and fight body tumors according to research. They increase good cholesterol (HDL) and help reduce weight (73% increase in lipolysis capacity), control diabetes, and help prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. So eat berries!

The berries you should eat!
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