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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mulberry Trees Are Very Tolerant of the Desert but Have Their Problems

Q. I would like to replace a huge Mulberry tree in my front yard, roots are very invasive but the shade is wonderful. We have west facing home. I would like to replace with a small bay laurel for cooking purposes and a shoestring acacia for shade. Are these trees invasive and would both be too much?
Mulberries planted in home landscapes are usually male trees and these trees produce pollen. Mulberry is very tolerant of many types of soil and high temperatures. It is a great shade tree for the desert because it can produce 100% shade. But it also has many problems for communities in the desert.
Mulberries are normally shallow rooted. They don't typically have a deep root system even under the best conditions.
Mulberries flower in the very early spring before the leaves emerge. Some mulberry trees are male and others are female. The male trees produce pollen which many peopl are allergic to and the female trees produce fruit which can become very messy.
A. Invasive has several different meanings. If you mean, are the roots in they? Yes, Mulberry has a very invasive root system. Mulberry is a great tree for the desert if you are just talking about how easily it handles extremes of all kinds and produces 100% shade if it gets enough water.
            But it does have a lot of problems; very high water use, the mail tree produces a lot of pollen that can be a human health hazard and the roots will get into any place where there is water and nutrients.
            But that goes for almost every tree that's out there including many of our desert trees like Acacia and Mesquite. If given the chance, Bay Laurel will have an invasive root system.
            You will want to keep all trees added distance from the house and other structures including walls that is half of its mature height. Never plant them on top of a septic system, near a swimming pool or near the sewer lines.
            I think planting Bay Laurel in a Western exposure could be a mistake. It will do much better on the north or east side of a home with some protection from the late afternoon sun. As a warning to you, I have seen freeze damage to Bay Laurel in the Las Vegas Valley.
            I would try to put it in a spot that has some protection from strong winter winds. The Acacia will handle a Western exposure very nicely. However, it will not give you the same shade as a Mulberry. I think you could classify the Acacia as filtered sunlight which will allow you to plant beneath it. Planting under a Mulberry tree has a lot more restrictions because of the dense shade.

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