Mulberry King James I

Mulberry King James I (Morus nigra). The black mulberry is native to western Asia but was introduced to Europe in Roman times. There is a fascinating history to the King James variety. It is derived from a tree that existed in the 17th century, in a garden in Swan Walk, which became the Chelsea Physic Garden during the reign of King James I. During the 1939/45 war the last remaining tree was about to be grubbed to make way for an air raid shelter when cuttings were taken and from these the trees of this name have survived.

The fruit matures slowly during the summer months ripening over a long period during August. When fully ripe it is very dark red, almost black in colour. It is very juicy and has a very distinct, delicious, sweet sharp flavour. It can be eaten fresh or used in jams.

Our 2 mulberry trees were planted in 2011 and 2016; the older one overlooking the main Common. The mulberry tree has a spreading habit and becomes crooked and gnarled with time, making it an architectural feature. Prune mulberries when they are fully dormant - about a month after leaf fall. This should prevent sap bleeding from the cut surfaces. Each winter, remove badly placed shoots that interfere with the shape of the tree. Remove any that appear on the trunk below the framework and those that are dead, broken, crossing or over-crowded.