… the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
On a cold and frosty morning.
Actually it’s a half standard tree rather than a bush; a cultivar ‘Chelsea’ (syn. ‘King James I’) of Morus nigra; a companion to the ‘Wellington’ we planted a year ago. Except they won’t be able to get too friendly as we shall have to shift the King James.
Whilst the nursery label describes this as a small tree, it’s not that small at 10m and it likes to spread out – a lot. I can’t see a graft point so the OH was right and the 4m spacing won’t be enough.
The mulberry, like the medlar, seems to have fallen out of favour as a fruit tree. The tree can take a while to come into fruit; it doesn’t fruit all at once making harvesting more difficult, the fruit doesn’t travel well and the juice stains markedly. But, commercial growers loss, our gain because the fruit is delicious, and I think it is a pretty tree.
Like so many plants, the mulberry has a fascinating history. The specimen we have has come down, allegedly, from a cutting off a tree in Swan Walk, now the Chelsea Physic Garden, (hence the cultivar name ‘Chelsea’), which was taken out to make way for an air raid shelter in the Second World War. The original specimen is said to have existed at the time of King James I (17th century). So not bad if it was still around in the mid 20th century.
And of course there is the famous story of the disastrous attempt, by King James I, to build a thriving silk industry in England during the 17th century. The story goes that the wrong species of mulberry was planted, Morus nigra, the black mulberry, rather than Morus alba, the white, hence the failure of the enterprise. Though I expect the Silkworms, (Bombyx mori), do eat black mulberry leaves and that the enterprise failed for reasons other than planting the black instead of the white mulberry. Still it’s a good story, more of which can be found here.
I better go off and find a different spot for the King James.