Possible Causes Of A Fruitless Mulberry With Yellow Leaves

Yellow Mulberry Leaves
(Image credit: Timothy S. Allen)

Fruitless mulberry trees are popular landscaping trees. The reason that they are so popular is due to the fact that they are fast growing, have a lush canopy of dark green leaves, and are tolerant of many urban conditions; plus, unlike their cousins the red and white mulberry tree, they do not make a mess with their fruit. Due to their popularity, many people become alarmed when the mulberry tree leaves start turning yellow. There are many reasons fruitless mulberry tree leaves turn yellow.

Mulberry Leaf Spot

Mulberry leaf spot is caused by a type of fungi that attacks the leaves of the tree. Fruitless mulberry trees are particularly susceptible to it. Mulberry leaf spot can be identified by the leaves growing somewhat malformed, yellowed, and having black spots. Mulberry leaf spot can be treated with fungicide. Even without treatment, fruitless mulberry trees can normally survive this disease. The important thing to remember is that you will need to clean up and dispose of all the fallen leaves in the fall or winter. The mulberry leaf spot fungi overwinter on the fallen leaves and in the spring, the rain will splash the fungi back onto the tree, which re-infects it for the next year. Removing and destroying the fallen leaves will help prevent this.

Not Enough Water

Fruitless mulberry trees grow rapidly and their root systems can grow to a massive size. What this means is that what may have been enough water one year will not be enough water the next. When the tree does not get enough water, the mulberry gets yellow leaves. A mulberry tree may be particularly prone to this during periods of drought when the leaves will be transpiring water faster than the roots can take it up. The best course of action is too water the tree deeply about once a week. Watering deeply is better for the tree than multiple shallow waterings. A deep watering will get the water down into the root system so that more of the roots will be able to take water up at the same rate as the leaves transpire it.

Cotton Root Rot

Cotton root rot is another fungus that can cause a mulberry to have yellow leaves. Cotton root rot is characterized by yellowing leaves followed by wilting. The leaves will not fall off the plant though. Unfortunately, by the time the symptoms of cotton root rot are seen, the tree has most likely been damaged beyond repair and will most likely die within a year. Calling an arborist to look at the situation is advised due to the fact that cotton root rot will continue to spread in the soil and kill other surrounding plants and trees. Hopefully your mulberry tree will recover from whatever problem is causing the mulberry tree leaves to turn yellow. Fruitless mulberry trees are amazingly resilient and yours should bounce back in no time at all.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.