En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - June 21, 2009

From: Wilmington, DE
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Is mulberry tree inhibiting growth of plants under it in Wilmington DE?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a large mulberry tree in my yard and the plants around it are not flowering or growing, some are now dead. Could the mulberry tree be toxic to other plants?

ANSWER:

We began by trying to determine which mulberry you had. Morus rubra (red mulberry) is native to your part of Delaware; however, we kept finding references to mulberries as invasive, pushing other plants out of their native habitats. Turns out there is a "common" mulberry or white mulberry, Morus alba, which is native to China. Apparently these often hybridize with the red mulberry, and can, indeed, be invasive. 

What we needed to know next was whether or not the mulberry was allelopathic; that is, producing chemical materials which caused the inhibition of growth of competing plants beneath the tree. We found no reference to allelopathy in mulberries; in fact, we learned that the poster child for allelopathy, Juglans nigra (black walnut) can be especially damaging to mulberry trees. 

Bottom line, although we don't know if your tree is native or not, we don't think it is emitting allelopathic substances and killing the plants beneath it. It may, however, be inhibiting plant growth with its very shallow roots, or the shade it provides. All mulberry trees also drop a lot of litter, seeds, twigs, leaves-which may be cutting back on the plants trying to survive beneath the tree.

The mulberry is not considered a very desirable tree, and the non-native is certainly undesirable, as it can become invasive. You will probably have to make a decision about whether the plant material on the ground or the tree are more important to you and take the other one out. 

 

More Trees Questions

Unusual green fruit
August 17, 2009 - Unknown "fruit" in my backyard I have large (softball size) nobbly green orbs finding their way into my backyard. They sort of look like a tennis ball left out in the rain to rot, but they are o...
view the full question and answer

Problems with a Sherman (Shumard?) Oak from Bixby OK
May 14, 2012 - We have done extensive research on oak fungi/diseases/pests could be affecting our Sherman Oak tree but we are stumped. The leaves are falling off and have some sort of moldy bunch within the leaf it...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
view the full question and answer

What can be planted under a pine tree in Detroit, MI?
April 22, 2008 - What type of plant would you suggest I plant under my big (Blue bruce) pine tree? It's about 25 ft high and the branches are trimmed to about 4 feet up, so it does get some light but mostly shade.I a...
view the full question and answer

Need a tree to replace a large oak tree that may be dying in Bedias TX.
April 28, 2011 - I live in Bedias, TX in Grimes County. One of the largest oak trees on my property looks like it's dying. It's simply not leafing out well. I literally can't afford for this to happen since I depen...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center