This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I am somewhat surprised seeing your remarks in the August number of the Monthly in regard to the Paper Mulberry - "that plants can at times change their sexual character".
This tree is as regularly male and female on different trees as the fruit-bearing mulberry. There was, and may be yet, a large tree standing on the lot of Wm. Kirkpatrick, afterwards owned by the late Jacob Stauffer, in Lancaster City, more than thirty years ago. About thirty years ago, a man from New Orleans, traveling in Texas, came across a tree new to him. He supposed it to be a cross of the mulberry and the fig, and called it Fig Mulberry. He sent me both seeds and cuttings, and I raised a number of plants, both from the seeds and the cuttings" Most of them I threw away, as I did not care to grow more than a few. One tree I still have, bearing its curious balls in June, and also a tree on my son's farm, near Maytown, this county, also bearing these seed balls in profusion. The balls are about the size of a small hulled walnut but stuck all over with little red stamens about half an inch long. When in this condition the tree looks curious and beautiful. I kept none of the male variety, as at that time the male trees were a regular street tree in towns along the sidewalks, but are now almost extinct.
I would not know where to find a single specimen at the present time.
[The many friends of Mr. Garber will be very glad to read something from his pen again. Few men have given more freely of their time and knowledge to the general information fund than Mr. Garber has in his day, and we are glad to take the present occasion to draw attention to this fact.
In regard to the Paper Mulberry, we must not lose sight of the fact that it is not a native of Texas, but of China and Japan. It is of great interest to know that fruiting specimens were thirty years ago - but the question still remains, was this tree introduced from Japan or Chinese seed, or is it a development from the male tree already under culture? The only reason for suggesting the latter possibility was from analogy. Mr Isaac C. Martindale, of Camden, has seen an Ailantus of one sex produce flowers of another sex. It is rather common to find Silver Maples which for years produce female flowers only, have branches wholly bearing male ones. Still, as Mr. Garber suggests, this is not the proof that the Paper Mulberry has done the same. We should rather agree with him that the actual evidence that it has changed would be more desirable, and if any one can find the two kinds of flowers on the same tree, we should be glad to see the specimens. - Ed. G. M].