Of the dozen or so species of mulberry known, four or five can be grown without protection in the south of Britain. These are (with us) small, bushy-headed trees with alternate, deciduous, toothed, and often variously lobed leaves. The flowers are unisexual, the sexes borne on separate spikes, which are small, more or less cylindrical, axillary, and of no beauty. The ‘fruit’ of the mulberry is really a fruit cluster, composed of closely packed drupes, each enclosed by the persistent, enlarged, succulent sepals.
Mulberry trees like a warm, well-drained, loamy soil, and M. nigra especially is worth growing for its luxuriant leafage and picturesque form. It is not much planted now, but nothing gives to a garden fortunate enough to possess it a greater sense of old-world charm and dignity than a rugged old mulberry standing on a lawn. It can be increased by summer cuttings with the greatest ease – the old writers say pieces 8 ft or more long will grow. Branches broken down but not detached will usually take root if they touch the ground. M. alba will also root from autumn or winter cuttings.