When we think about planting trees for wildlife, many folks typically focus on oaks or more commonly known fruit tree species such as persimmons or apples. Mulberries are often overlooked as a valuable plant for wildlife. Put simply, mulberries are one of the most effective wildlife trees you can plant to add more diversity on your property. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Stellar Growth Rates.
Red mulberry seedlings grow incredibly fast! They can easily double or triple the growth rate of many of the more common wildlife friendly trees we’re all used to growing. Every tree lover needs to plant a few of these simply to watch them grow so fast!
2. Fruit Production at a VERY Young Age.
On a good site, it isn’t uncommon at all to see flowering and fruiting begin by their third growing season. Considering the trees grow so fast, they have the capability to produce large quantities of fruits by the time they’re 5 - 6 years of age. If you want some instant gratification in the form of loads of soft mast, this is a species you want in your arsenal. Mulberries are dioecious, meaning some trees are males that produce pollen, and the remainder are female fruit producing trees. Both are beneficial to wildlife.
3. Deer LOVE to Eat the New Growth.
We don’t want deer eating the actual trees we plant, which is why we use tree protectors. What we do want, is deer eating the small volunteer sprouts growing under and around the parent tree. Deer simply can’t resist mulberry leaves, and they’ll hone in on areas where volunteer seedlings proliferate. If volunteer seedlings make it to the sapling stage, they can be cut back to resprout and provide more food and cover.
4. First Fruits of the Year, and Wildlife Devour Them.
Mulberry fruits are the very first to mature, as early as late April in the South, and May and June the further North you go. That’s right, on years with an early spring, they can actually mature and begin dropping before turkey season is over in many states. Everything in the forest likes to eat mulberry fruits, so GameKeepers can use them for a multitude of scenarios such as: attracting late season turkeys, trapping predators (check your state regs), trail camera hotspots, increasing pollinator habitat (they are a host plant for butterflies and moths), and attracting songbirds.
5. Great Snack for Humans.
Although not related, mulberries look much like Rubus species – blackberries, raspberries, dewberries, etc. Mulberries mature sooner than the Rubus species, effectively lengthening your foraging season. Mulberries are extremely nutritious, carrying high contents of vitamins C, K, and B-1, along with a generous amount of iron and fiber. The flavor is mild, earthy, and sweet.
So whether you’re planting a small orchard on the edge of an opening, a few trees in a clearing in the woods, alongside a walking trail, or behind your cabin, Mulberry trees are a MUST HAVE for any GameKeeper.