Tag Archives: multi-use plants


Morus nigra – Black Mulberry

Morus alba, – White Mulberry

The Mulberry is a deciduous tree reaching up to 10m, but they can be coppiced or pollarded, every 1 – 4 years, to control size and provide leaf fodder for livestock. The Black Mulberry is considered to have the better fruit, while the White Mulberry is grown for its leaf value (silk worms are grown on the White). They are rapid growers while young but this slows as they age and they are also considered long lived trees. Because the trees are deep rooting they bring up nutrients from the ground and can be grown with crops surrounding them as they don’t compete. The leaves also contain high protein levels for a plant, making them highly nutritious for livestock, including rabbits. While the berries are an excellent chook forage.

The purple-black berries of the Black Mulberry, are produced early summer and are considered delicious, though it recommended that you do not plant near concrete as they stain. These berries can be eaten fresh or used in jams, cordials and winemaking. Young leaves are eaten cooked in many countries. The fruit, bark and leaves, of both species, are also medicinal with many uses, including the treatment of colds, flu, eye infections and toothache. The bark is considered anthelmintic and purgative, it is used to expel tape worms, this could be highly beneficial if feeding branch trimmings to  livestock. Fiber can also be made from the bark, dye from the fruit and leaves, and the wood can be used for joinery.

It is also said that if planted next to Walnuts, Mulberries can buffer the negative effects of the Walnut roots on other plants. Underplanting with nitrogen fixing plants will help support the Mulberries growth.  Well drained soil is preferred, Mulberries are fairly drought-hardy once established but prefer water during fruiting. They are low maintenance, frost hardy and self-fertile. An excellent choice for a multi-purpose hedgerow, specimen tree, etc.



Corylus avellana

The Hazel is deciduous and can be grown either as a multi-stemmed bush or a single trunk small tree. They are hardy and fast growing, reaching 3–8m tall, but can reach as high as 15m. The flowers (single sex catkins) are produced very early in spring before the leaves, the male catkins are pale yellow and 5–12 cm long, and the female ones are very small and largely concealed in the buds, with only the bright-red, 1-to-3mm long stigmas visible. Pollination is done by the wind and pollinator Hazels are necessary for this to be successful.

The edible nuts are 1–2.5 cm long and 1–2 cm diameter, surrounded by a husk which can partially or fully enclose the nut. Ripening from February to April, depending on the variety, Hazels are ready when they fall from the tree. Harvesting can spread over three to four weeks per tree, keeping the ground clear during this time can help with ease of picking the nuts up. Once harvested nuts must be dried and stored in a cool dark place.

Hazel leaves and small branches can also be used as stock fodder/forage, the nuts as pigs or bird fodder and the flowers provide an early pollen source for bees. The Hazel stems are also used for basketry, woven fencing (hurdles), walking sticks, garden stakes, furniture and the frames of coracle boats. The tree can be coppiced, and regenerating shoots can be harvested every few years. However, if nuts are wanted the pruning should be kept light as they bear on strong one-year old wood. Remove any inward growing branches and crossing branches to allow light and openness in the center of the tree/shrub. The Hazel grows best in sheltered areas with fertile soil and consistent moisture levels. They can tolerate frosts but persistent harsh winds will slow their growth.

These are some cultivars  which are readily available.

Hazel – Appleby

Low vigour, spreading tree form, moderate suckering, with good yields. Needs pollinator possibly Campanica, Butler, Davianna and Merveille de Bollwiller could be used.  Good flavour.

Hazel – Merveille de bollwiller 

A large attractive nut.  Highly sought-after pollinator.  Vigorous grower.  Pollinate with ‘Alexandra’.  Hardy.  Late cropper, ripens April.

Hazel – Whiteheart 

Good yields of medium-sized nuts with a clean kernel and excellent flavour. Best hazelnut for processing. Pollinators include ‘Alexandra’ and ‘Merveille de Bollwiller’. Ripens April.


Willow –  Salix spp.

 Weeping Willow, Basket Willow (Osier), Fodder Willow & Tortured Willow.

 weeping willow (2)

Willows are deciduous trees and shrubs, grown primarily in moist soils in cold and temperate regions. They are fast growing, and their large, fibrous roots are very useful for erosion control and river bank stabilization. While their growth habit has resulted in some species being classed as pest species within New Zealand we will focus on several beneficial species, Weeping, Basket, Fodder and Tortured/Corkscrew. Willows are dioecious (single sex), so male and female flowers appear as catkins on separate plants. These catkins emerge early in the spring, often before the leaves.

willow flowers
Photo credit https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Flowers-of-the-female-and-male-trees-in-Salicaceae-species-On-willow-and-poplar-the_fig4_273576556 

Over summer the leaves and stems are considered to be a valuable source of fodder/forage especially in times of drought. The feed value of willow is considered to be comparable to Lucerne and with crude protein levels of 15% it is above the nutritional levels required by livestock. The tannins contained in the plants are said to assist in balancing out lush grass growth after rain, helping to prevent bloat in stock. Zinc and magnesium levels are also high in Willow leaves and these are important animal health minerals. However, sodium levels can be low in willow leaves, and a salt block should be provided if there little or no pasture available. The tree bark also considered to have good nutritional value and pollarded or coppiced branches can be fed to livestock.

Other uses for willow include shelterbelts/hedgerows, shade tree, early bee forage, basketry, wattle fences, wattle and daub house walls etc. Then of course there is the medicinal qualities, Willow bark contains Salicin which converts to salicylic acid in the human body and is an anti-inflammatory agent and mild pain reliever. Willow is in fact the origin of our modern Aspirin.

So, Willows are a hardy multi-use plant which require, preferably, full sun and moist soils, they will tolerate very wet soils and periodic flooding. But do not plant near buildings or drains as roots can be invasive. Height and harvesting can be easily managed by frequent pruning and they coppice or pollard well.

Weeping Willow – Salix babylonica pendula

Wide pendulous tree reaching 10 m. Fodder and shade. Good paddock tree. Tolerant of wet soils. Attractive to bees. Deciduous. Hardy.

Uses: Fodder, Erosion Control, Birds/Bees, Shade, Wet areas, Early bee forage, Medicinal.

Japanese fodder willow – Salix kinuyanagi

Fast growing, bushy tree to 4m.  Excellent fodder. Nitrogen content 2.7% dry weight similar to Lucerne hay. Deciduous. Hardy.

Uses: Shelter, Fodder, Hedging, Erosion Control, Early bee forage, Birds/Bees, Coppicing, Medicinal, Hedgerow.

Basket Willow/Osier – Salix viminalis

Multi stemmed shrub fast growing up to 6m. Prefers wet sites. Is also planted in small-scale water treatment systems. Used in basketry and living willow sculptures.

Uses: Fodder, Hedging, Basketry, Waterside planting, Coppicing, Early bee forage, Contaminated sites, Medicinal, Hedgerow.

Purple basket Willow/Osier – Salix purpurea

Broadly spreading, deciduous shrub reaching 2-5m. Widely utilised for basket weaving. Coppice annually to produce basket material.

Fodder, Hedging, Basketry, waterside planting, coppicing, contaminated sites, Medicinal, Hedgerow, Erosion Control.

Golden willow – Salix alba ‘Vitellina’

Broadly spreading, deciduous tree reaching 10-20m. Current year’s shoots are yellow in winter, adding a touch of colour. A cultivar of white willow which has long been used for its medicinal properties, the active extract of the bark, called salicin, is the fore runner to today’s aspirin.

Fodder, Hedging, Basketry, waterside planting, coppicing, Medicinal, Hedgerow, Erosion Control.

Tortured/Corkscrew Willow – Salix matsudana ‘tortuosa’

Fast growing deciduous tree reaching up to 20m. Grows well in wet sites and is hardy. The corkscrew like twisted branches and stems are popular in floral arrangements.

Uses: Fodder, Shade, Basketry, Floral arrangements, Early bee forage, Waterside planting, Coppicing, Contaminated sites, Medicinal.