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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.

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

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Thursday - June 27, 2013

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives
Title: Is a mulberry tree undesirable?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I have a hard time keeping plants alive, so I was happy when a random plant just started growing and thriving about 5 years ago in my yard. My mom (a frequent volunteer at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center) identified it as a Mulberry tree and suggested I get rid of it. Likewise, I had a landscape architect prepare a planting plan for the yard and he, too suggested I get rid of it. However, it seems to thrive so well and it is providing nice shade. Do I really need to get rid of it? what potential problems could this tree cause. I have seen no fruit so far.

ANSWER:

 

Well, it all depends.  I suspect that it is a Paper mulberry.  This non-native plant sometimes becomes very invasive, edging out native plants in its vicinity.  Seeds from your tree could be carried by birds into natural areas nearby.  Check out the texture of the leaves.  If they are sandpapery on top and downy underneath, it is the unwelcome Paper mulberry.  Best to eliminate it now.

On the other hand, it could m the much less common Morus microphylla (Littleleaf mulberry) or the Morus rubra (Red mulberry).  These natives are less invasive and provice food for wildlife.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mulberry
Morus microphylla

Red mulberry
Morus rubra

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