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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mulberry Allergies and Its Elimination

Sneezing? Eyes watering? Headaches? Mulberries are in bloom and have been this past week. If you do not own a mulberry there is not much you can do.However, if you do own a mulberry you can understand where these allergies are coming from and perhaps do something about them other than spraying.
Mulberries produce flowers categorized as catkins. Male and female flowers grow from  respective male and female trees.
Many fruit trees that grow in climates that have seasons (temperate fruit crops) produce their flowers and fruit either on the wood that grew last year (grapes, peaches), or the wood that grows this year (pomegranate) or both years (figs).

Mulberry is a fruit tree. It is slightly different from many of the fruit trees that we know because the tree which produces fruit is a female only. All girl. The tree that produces pollen that pollinates and fertilizes the female flower is a male tree. All boy. Wind is responsible for carrying the pollen from the flowers of a male tree to the flowers of a female tree. Mulberries are either male trees or female trees but male and female flowers are not found on the same tree.

Male mulberry tree ready to flower and release pollen from wood that grew last year.
Female trees are no longer planted much in cities because female trees produce fruit that stain cars, sidewalks, patios and attract birds which love the fruit and poop the same mess.When mulberry is outlawed in a community because of allergies, it is the male mulberry tree that is banned, not the female.
Mulberries pruned so that all of last year's wood has been removed. The primary areas where new growth occurs are at the ends of the major branches.Yes, this is an acceptable pruning practice and not considered "topping" which is unacceptable.

Mulberry flowers or catkins are produced very early in the spring on branches or wood that was produced last year. They are not produced on wood during the current season. If wood that was produced last year on a male tree is removed each year, there would be no male flowers and no pollen.

There is an old pruning technique seldom used anymore called pollarding. Pollinating is a very specialized pruning technique usually established on trees when they are very young. Branches or arms radiate from the trunk. New growth is concentrated at the ends of these arms and is removed every year.

Read a great article published in Australia about pollarding.

Read a more detailed discussion about pollarding

Pollarding can be used on several types of trees to keep them from growing into power lines, allow for more light into the landscape during winter months, conserve water and reduce or eliminate either pollen or fruit by some landscape trees.

I believe pollarding should be an acceptable and encouraged practice of pruning mulberry trees to reduce allergies, save water and beautify our landscapes.

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