2012 Paper Mulberry Crop

A few year ago, a mulberry plant started growing in my yard. According to my tree identification book, it is a paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera. This identification is not definitive, since Wikipedia mentions a sticky sap which I don’t recall observing. Other possibilities are the black (Morus nigra) or red (Morus rubra) mulberries.

Since then I have been cutting it back late each fall but have not done much with the branches yet, so it has been collecting along with all our other raw plant fibres “to be processed some day.”

2012 Paper mulberry crop 2.6kg green weightWhen we moved three years ago I took the plant with us, and last fall we got a pretty good crop off it, about 2.6 kg of green wood with bark. I cut the branches to the right length for our steamer but as usual did not have the time to process them. I have this vague recollection that freshly-cut stems are easier to process than ones that have dried out, so I stood the bundle in a pail with some water in the bottom and left them outside with the intention of processing them soon. But I never got around to that, and recently I took a look at them and they still seem fresh, with the buds showing green if cut open.

I am considering pulling a stem or two out of the bundle (not an easy task—they are wrapped quite tightly) and trying to root them to propagate the plant. I will have to do this soon because the warm weather will soon bring the buds out of dormancy.

Currently the plant itself is a stump about 5cm (2″) diameter and 60cm (2′) tall. I want to cut it back before the buds open this spring to reduce the number of shoots produced, hopefully getting longer and thicker ones instead.

Posted in Fibre harvesting, Kevin

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