Trees are for the Birds | Leisure | The Daily News – Galveston County Daily News


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Partly cloudy skies early will become overcast later during the night. Low near 55F. Winds E at 10 to 20 mph.
Updated: November 13, 2022 @ 2:14 am
November 13, 2022
Mulberries are fast-growing, medium-sized deciduous trees that can thrive in sun or part shade, in most soils, and can tolerate drought as well as standing water.
Margaret Canavan

Margaret Canavan
Mulberries are fast-growing, medium-sized deciduous trees that can thrive in sun or part shade, in most soils, and can tolerate drought as well as standing water.
As the Thanksgiving season approaches, we have much for which we are thankful. High on my list are our trees–trees that provide beauty to the landscape, shade that reduces heat to structures and pavement, roots that stabilize soil, that produce fruits and nuts to feed us, and convert carbon dioxide to the oxygen we humans require for survival.
Another role for trees is providing habitat for our various winged friends, for which they are surely grateful. Birds are relatively quiet at this time of year, but spring migration is just around the corner. Multitudes of tired and hungry birds will head north, stopping off in our landscapes for sustenance. Note to pollinator gardeners: trees support an even greater diversity of butterflies and moths than the flowering plants we often use.
So now is the perfect season for tree planting. Cooler weather gives roots time to establish before the punishing heat of summer. If you can plant a tree to provide maximum benefit for migratory and permanent-resident birds as well as pollinators, what are the best choices?
Here are three recommendations, all of which have been the focus of previous Tree Stories: live oak (Quercus virginiana), hackberry (Celtis laevigata), and mulberry (Morus rubra). Before you say that the latter two are “trash trees”, please read on for their redeeming qualities.
We all know and love our big oaks. These slow growers develop magnificent broad, rounded canopies. Dark-green, waxy leaves are replaced each spring, making the tree appear evergreen. They are heat-, cold-, and fairly drought tolerant and can thrive in a variety of soils. Oaks provide fabulous habitat for nesting birds. Equally important are their leaves that support over 500 different moths and butterflies, which through the cycle of life also provide food to young birds. Squirrels are currently hiding the acorns. If you have room, plant a long-lived oak that can be enjoyed for generations.
Now to the so-called “trash trees”.
Our large hackberries are everywhere and often unappreciated. These tough, durable trees grow quickly and seem to survive almost anything. Birds and pollinators value them and dozens of species use hackberries for food and shelter. Spring flowers provide a pollinator nectar source and tender new leaves are a perfect caterpillar food plant. The berries are beloved to birds. Their pollution-resistance makes them perfect for streetside plantings. When extra seedlings appear, they pull up easily. To attract birds and butterflies to your yard, plant a hackberry.
Mulberries are fast-growing, medium-sized deciduous trees that can thrive in sun or part shade, in most soils, and can tolerate drought as well as standing water. They produce spring flowers as well as berries enjoyed by birds as well as humans. These produce fruit and host insects when waves of migrants arrive in April. Don’t worry about them reseeding because all the berries will be devoured by birds. If you want a bird magnet in your landscape, plant a mulberry.
For this season of thanksgiving, give back to nature. Plant a tree.
“Tree Stories” is an ongoing series of articles about Island trees, tree care, and tree issues. If you have or know of a special tree on Galveston Island that should be highlighted, please email treesforgalveston@gmail.com. Margaret Canavan is a Galveston resident, a Galveston County Master Gardener, and a member of the Galveston Island Tree Conservancy Board.

Margaret Canavan
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We had to remove a large mulberry. It grew from one of those seeds that I guess the birds missed. Unfortunately, it decided to plant itself just under the side of our house and was pushing into the siding. But it was a fast grower. On Google street photos of our house from about 5 years before we bought it, it’s just a seedling a few high. It was well over a foot wide at the base when we had to cut it down.
About 3 years ago, I planted a live oak and it’s doing great. I also planted a Barbados cherry – which I loved, and which fruited the very first year – but the freeze killed it. I discovered an old oyster shell midden in my front yard when I planted it. Now is a great time of year to plant – when the local garden centers are having big sales.

When I was working in El Paso back in 1990, there was big push in the news to ban planting of mulberry tress within the city limits. Apparently this particular tree species consumes more water than other trees do. I just looked it up on the internet and the city ordinance is still in place.

Yep – but they grow like weeds on the island. I think they’d be OK in a larger yard, with a high water table.
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