The Mulberry Tree.

I’m Following a Tree

I am a little late joining in with Lucy at LooseandLeafy for her meme on Follow a Tree which is on the 7th of each month. It is a great idea to choose a tree and observe it as the year goes round.

The Mulberry tree: Morus nigra  I am following is very old  and  has historical associations.

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It is said to have been planted in  1550 by Adam Winthrop the grandfather of John Winthrop. John Winthrop led a party of Puritans to found a colony in North America in 1630. He became the first Governor of Massachusetts.

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Adam Winthrop was a clothier but the family probably had financial problems when there was a slump in the cloth trade in 1550. Many clothiers turned to silk as an alternative and indeed silk is still made in nearby Sudbury. It is possible that the Winthrops decided to plant mulberry trees  for the silk trade. This tree sits by itself in the middle of a field close to the Winthrop’s family seat. I wonder if there was once a whole field of mulberry trees and that this is the only one left. It was a common mistake when this tree was so new and exotic to plant the black mulberry: Morus nigra instead of the white one: Morus  alba which is the one used in silkworm production.  John Winthrop went to America for religious reasons but maybe for financial ones as well when the silk making project came to nothing.

It is hard to believe that this tree is so old but I imagine that as the years went by the tree fell down and regenerated itself from the places where the trunk met the earth.

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The field where this tree is to be found is called the croft and is maintained for the use of the people of the village of Groton, Suffolk. In late summer people from the village pick the juicy berries for jam and pies. They are very protective of the tree and get very annoyed when outsiders come and pick the fruit.

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I don’t know why the tree is kept in a cage, I don’ suppose he is going to heave himself out of the ground and take off down the lane. Not at his great age.

I have a mulberry tree in my garden which I am told is about 40 years old and was grown from a cutting from the Groton mulberry. I decided to watch the old tree rather than mine because I am fascinated by its great age and the history surrounding it.

The mulberry is always late coming into leaf and the buds show no sign of opening as yet.

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Talking about mulberries made me wonder about the derivation of the children’s nursery rhyme; ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush‘. Apparently it is thought that this was the chant of inmates at Wakefield prison. As they exercised they walked round and round the mulberry tree in the prison yard.

Many thanks to Lucy for hosting this meme.

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43 Responses to The Mulberry Tree.

  1. Elaine says:

    Your multi-stemmed tree looks strange but should be handy for picking the fruit. At Wiveton Hall walled garden in Norfolk they have a huge mulberry tree in the centre of the garden it is magnificent. Looking forward to seeing its progress through the year.

  2. What an amazing, old tree! And what a great idea to follow a tree! I’ll look forward to watching it over the next months.

  3. Cathy says:

    Isn’t it lovely to have that history? Do you think it might be worth putting a plaque for posterity on any of the trees I have planted here……?! 😉

  4. Natalie says:

    What an amazing tree! I like how it has sprung back to life when the trunk has fallen. I’m looking forward to seeing more of it over the year.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Natalie. I shall be watching your Hawthorn too. I love your shots of the lichen on your tree. I shall be taking a close look at the lichen on my Mulberry now.

  5. Chloris says:

    I think you should put a plaque on one of your trees, one that is long-lived. In 500 years somebody will be writing about you and your tree on their blog.

  6. Pauline says:

    What a fascinating tree and its history. I think maybe the cage is there to stop deer, or other animals stripping the bark and thereby killing it, in deer parks you see the trees with cages round them.

  7. I will be very interested in following your ancient Suffolk Mulberry (and your blog) – I have one given as a gift 5 years ago but have no garden to plant it in – currently resides in a neighbour’s plot in a very large pot. They are said to be the wise tree because they do not leaf until all signs of winter have gone

  8. Chloris says:

    Thank you for your comment and following my blog, Laura. I have never heard that the mulberry is called the wise tree because of the late appearance of the leaves. Thank you for telling me. If you look after your tree and plant it out one day, it is awe- inspiring to think it could still be around in 500 years.

  9. What a great choice of tree, one with such a rich history, I love a good tale. I have always wanted to grow a mulberry; it has always struck me as a little odd that a tree has berries on it and this peculiarity makes it very attractive. Looking forward to following you following it!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Gill. I liked the idea of following a tree with a story.
      I don’ t know whether you have tried mulberry berries, they make wonderful jam.

  10. AnnetteM says:

    What an interesting story and a great old tree. I hope none of your blogger friends rush to pick the fruit when it ripens or you might get into trouble with ‘the locals’!

  11. What a magnificent tree, and with such a history too. No wonder the villagers guard the fruit jealously, I would too! Wonderful choice for following.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Janet. Annette thinks blogger friends may come and take the fruit now I have told everyone about it. But I think everyone lives too far away. Besides Mulberry fruit stains the hands so they would be caught ‘ red-handed’.

  12. Chloris says:

    Thank you, Annette. Your Copper Beech is magnificent.
    I never thought of blogger friends coming to pick the fruit. I think most of them live much too far away so I think it will be alright.

  13. coastcard says:

    http://carolinegillwildlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/im-following-tree-project-and-you-can.html
    What a fascinating Mulberry tree. It will be interesting for me to read about another Suffolk tree, especially one with such a history. I always remember being fascinated by the silk farm near Lullingstone Roman Villa when I was a child.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Caroline. I wish I could get shots of so many beautiful birds using the tree as you have done with your lovely birch. I don’ t think I will be able to though.

  14. Anna says:

    I certainly enjoyed meeting that fabulous tree Chloris over a late morning cuppa. Shame that it is caged in. I know what I’m going to be singing for the rest of the day!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Anna. Sorry if I got you singing ‘Here we go round the Mulberry Bush’ all day. I hope you’ve stopped now. Or perhaps you had stopped and I’ve got you started again?

  15. Julie says:

    This is very interesting, I planted one with a friend 5 years ago and it has still not fruited but I understand they can take 8 to 9 years before any fruit is borne, when it does though the fruits will be much cherished!

    • Chloris says:

      I believe you have to wait several years for mulberries to fruit. The same with quince. I have waited three years for my quince to fruit.. Still all good things are worth waiting for.

  16. Joanne says:

    I would love to have a mulberry tree in my garden, I haven’t ruled out planting one in a whisky barrel or larger pot. What a fabulous story behind the tree you picked to follow.

    • Chloris says:

      It is nice to have a tree with a bit of history.
      I can’ t think of any reason why you shouldn’t be able to grow a mulberry in a pot. What a lovely idea.

  17. Annette says:

    An awesome tree who’d have lots to tell. The fence is probably to protect it. What an interesting story, Chloris. Always worth popping in 🙂

  18. Flighty says:

    What a wonderful tree to follow! I look forward to seeing your posts about it through the year. xx

  19. Hollis says:

    I like this tree — it appears to be growing along the ground and sending branches up! and I learned something of our (USA) history too 😉

    • Chloris says:

      It is sending up shoots from the trunk which is on the ground.
      Hollis, I am so sorry for the delay in answering, I just found your two comments in spam, I can’t imagine why they were there. I don’t usually check it but I am glad I did on this occasion.

  20. Chloris says:

    Thank you Flighty, and thanks for the great idea of following this meme.

  21. We planted two mulberry trees in our orchard when we came here eight years ago. They are so very slow growing it will be a while before they look like trees rather than spindly adolescents. I do love them and will be interested to see a mature tree through a year. I am following a rowan and am off to do my post right now!

  22. Chloris says:

    I have checked out your Rowan post and will be interested to see how it develops through the year. Your young mulberries should start to fruit soon.

  23. Alain says:

    It is indeed a magnificent tree. In our old garden every year many mulberry trees came up from seeds dropped by birds. I don’t know what kind it was, probably the black, and I never found out where the mother tree was.

  24. Chloris says:

    My mulberry never has seedlings. I can’ t think why because it always has plenty of fruit.
    I suppose your seedlings had passed through a bird’s stomach.

  25. Garden Soul says:

    What a wonderful history associated with this tree! I look forward to seeing it change each month.

  26. What a great tree – and amazing that you already know so much of its history. That’s a fascinating bit about the black and white mulberry.
    Living where you do, have you come across Liz Trenow of Sudbury, who writes novels about the silk business? I have her first novel on my Kindle but haven’t read it yet…
    All the best 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I haven’t met her although I have met other members of the Warner family. I have been meaning to read this book about silk and now that you have reminded me I will do so.

  27. bittster says:

    That’s some history for what is quite an unassuming tree! The fence is a good idea. I know if I were there for a walk with the kids, they would be up and into it well before I had a chance to read the sign and threaten them off!

  28. Chloris says:

    Well I don’ t know if the fence would keep your children out but when the fruit is ripe you see even very old people scaling it with remarkable agility. They don’t climb the tree though. Now that would be a sight worth recording.

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