Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Urban Homesteader Idiotic Moment of the Day

I will swear up and down I read somewhere that white mulberries (Morus alba) are ornamental only and that the berries, though edible, had no appealing flavor.

Um, NOT! Yes, I'm an idiot.

I decided a week or so ago that I was going to do some more research to see if the mulberries were at least eaten by birds or other animals that I might want to keep around. If these plants were purely ornamental, the bad girl in the following picture was going to be coming down.

Immediately in my research I realized that whatever it was I had read before was dead wrong. These berries are bursting with flavor, and birds and humans alike love 'em. I immediately ran outside to have a taste, knowing that just a couple days before my much larger white mulberry tree in the back had been full of fruit (the one in the picture is not yet fruiting; I don't know how old it is, but it's at least 3 years old. Perhaps it's one of the fruitless cultivars? Not likely. Mulberries can take up to 10 years to bear.). Of course, I get out there and there are only a few, mostly unripe berries left on the tree. I search and search and finally find two plump, creamy-colored berries to pop into my mouth. Heaven...

Next year: white mulberry jam, white mulberry pie, white mulberry wine, white mulberry cobbler, white mulberry muffins, mulberry sauce, mulberry pancakes... You get the picture. :D

As a child, I spent most of my time at my grandma's house, and her entire block was surrounded by mulberry trees (Morus rubra). My best childhood friend and I would climb up into their canopies and feast, staining our fingers, faces, feet, and clothing with the deep purple of the berries. It was glorious for us, but I'm sure our parents weren't thrilled about the mess we always made of ourselves. Lucky me, the white mulberries don't stain! My children can climb our two trees and gorge themselves without making mountains of laundry for me! Man, I'm lovin' these trees more and more...

And if the tarnish free characteristic isn't enough for you homesteaders, consider the fact that the white mulberry is the native and preferred food source of silkworms. That's right, folks. You can grow your own silk. Another post on that to come later.

I guess, in the throes of white mulberry passion, this is a bad time to mention that the white mulberry is considered an invasive species. It is apparently killing the native red mulberry by spreading a root disease to the native species and displacing the reds. So the question remains whether to remove the non-fruiting mulberry or not. I'm okay with the large mulberry, partly because it's fruiting, partly because it's far outside my gardening area, and partly because I don't want to have to deal with the neighbors whose property it is partially on. I don't think I'll remove the smaller one this year. I have more to ponder.

No comments: