Question: morus

Where can I find morus / mulberry plants? Possibly in Lombardy.

Answer: morus

Gentile Franca,
the mulberry is a plant that was once widely cultivated throughout the Po Valley, because it was used in breeding silkworms, and because it bears pruning very well: they were positioned along the irrigation canals, and were pruned every year, obtaining long flexible branches to be used for various purposes on the farm. The mulberry roots helped to keep the banks of the canals steady, which in this motion required less maintenance, and the branches grew back in one or two seasons, allowing the plant to grow fairly quickly. Some mulberries are still seen along the canals, but most have been replaced or cut down; this happened because of a mulberry parasite, which was imported some decades ago from the American continent: Iphantria cunea. It is a small butterfly, which produces hundreds of eggs, from which small larvae emerge, greenish or almost white, pelosette and with black dots; these insects have completely infested the Italian mulberries, and they do it even today, in many areas, where there are mulberries with very few leaves and many worms. Because of this parasite, which can be eradicated by using common insecticides, the mulberry trees have almost disappeared from the rows along the canals, from the gardens, and obviously also from nurseries, because in a nursery they can attract parasites, which once devoured the leaves of the mulberry will be dispersed on the other plants present. But in many nurseries, plant care is active and takes place also with preventive actions; for this reason it is not impossible to find a mulberry tree in the nursery; but these are old-fashioned plants, which develop very quickly, even from seed, and which do not have a great commercial value (ie they are cheap), so there are few nurseries interested in selling a mulberry, and they also produce lots of fruits, and many customers do not like the plants from which the fruits fall, staining everything. But you can always ask the trusted nurseryman to order you a mulberry, so that they order one specifically for you; in general all nurseries turn to producers of multivariet plants, and therefore it will not be difficult to procure a single mulberry. However, know that it is an easily propagated plant: it grows from seed (and also quite rapidly) and also from cuttings; so if you find a mulberry tree in your neighbor's garden (or in the countryside), you can pick up a branch and try to make it take root. I have a mulberry in the garden, completely wild, developed from the seeds carried by the birds: I assure you that it is healthy, beautiful and full of fruit in late spring; from small seedlings to saplings only a few years have passed, and has never been attacked by American caterpillars.