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Dallas Morning News - October 19, 2017

Some Trees have No Redeeming Value

A well-known Texas landscape architect once made a dramatic statement about trees. He said that there are no bad trees. His point was that all trees are good if they are used in the right place. Back then and still today – I beg to differ! Fruitless mulberry has no point, no useful purpose and no redeeming value. This man-made hybrid is extremely messy, is very short lived, robs water and nutrients from better plants, looks ugly and is destructive to turf, utility pipes, side walks and drives.

It’s difficult to grow anything under this gawky hunk of poor quality wood and ugly leaves and the dead limbs that are common can be dangerous to cars and people. I have tried to come up with something positive about this big weed but its impossible.

There are some other crummy trees still being used, but they all at least one positive feature. This lame list includes cottonwood that has nice fall color some years and does well in its natural environments of river valleys. Silver poplar really does have pretty foliage that makes a pleasant sound in the wind. Silver maple sometimes has pleasant foliage when young and nice fall color. Lombardi poplars have dramatic vertical structure. Honey locust has good fall color but it really needs to be in the completely useless category because of the obnoxious and dangerous thorns. Siberian elm, incorrectly called Chinese elm, has nice structure and sometimes good fall color but the elm leaf beetles have the right idea in trying to eat it into oblivion. Arizona ash has excellent yellow fall color. Chinese tallow has strong red fall color and decorative white seedpods. Tree of heaven, star of the book - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, is stately and dramatic. And Chinaberry has pretty bark and fragrant, colorful flowers. Although these trees all have some interesting points, they are all invasive introductions with many other bad habits and flaws.

However, they do not hold a candle to the miserably awful fruitless mulberry. Have one or some? What to do? Cut ’em down and have hauled off. This tree, and I use the term loosely, doesn’t even make good mulch or firewood. There is a good mulberry. It’s the native that the fruitless mistake was bred from. The fruiting mulberry not on lives longer and is much better looking, it produces fruit that is delicious and has medicinal value. Yes - it can be quite messy and a problem if planted near driveways, walks and patios or if the fruit isn’t managed properly by harvesting it on a regular basis. Plant it remotely and enjoy the tasty fruit.

Fruiting mulberry - the good choice

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