Here we go round . . .

Behind Boones’ Ironmongers on Poole High Street is a rare mulberry tree, now sitting rather sadly in an island bed in the middle of a car park,circled by cars.

The black mulberry (morus nigra) was introduced into this country from the 16th century onwards and was particularly popular in the 17th century when James I hoped to make use of mulberry leaves in the cultivation of silkworms. Unfortunately, it turns out that the worms prefer leaves of the white mulberry! The trees are easy to propagate from seed or shoots and grow quickly at first and slowly later. They are also late to bear fruit and can live to a great age.

The fruit of the tree turns from red to black as it ripens and is sweet tasting, being good for jam and wine. It is also useful for making dyes. The leaves were favoured by the Romans to treat diseases of the mouth and throat and the bark is used to make paper.

Another, better known, mulberry is growing in front of the swimming pool and both trees are currently loaded with fruit. How old they are, we don’t know; probably only 50 – 100 years. Can anyone fill in more information about the High Street tree, how old it is or who might have planted it?



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5 Responses to Here we go round . . .

  1. Andrew Hawkes says:

    The Mulberry tree in the service area is well over 100 years old and may be nearer 200. It was originalily in the garden of the Hermitage and was quite a large tree, far too big for the garden. Around 1900 my great grandfather, Joseph Hawkes cut the tree back and transported some of the logs to make garden steps in his new home in Longfleet Road where one of the logs took root and another tree grew. This tree continued to grow till the house in Longfleet road was demolished for the Birds Hill Nursing Home. It is very possible that he also planted the Lagland St. tree.
    When my great grandfather left the Hermitage, his son Victor Hawkes came to live there, and he continued to prune the tree, and later his son, and latterly myself, till the 1960’s and the area was cleared for slum clearance and the tree was left in the middle of waste ground. When Dorset County Council purchased the land to become public highway and a service area, local people campaigned to keep the tree, and so the tree was preserved by the stone wall and continues to grow and produce a large crop of mulberries each year. It no longer gets pruned but lorries using the service area regularly knock branches off and this seems no problem to the tree as new branches appear each year.
    Andrew Hawkes

  2. I remember, when on an organised walk, a woman telling us that when she was a small child her father put her in the tree to stop the tree from being cut down during the campaign. I think she said that she was on the front page of the local paper, during the 60’s?

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