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which mulberry to buy. advise me!

which mulberry to buy. advise me!

hi all
i'm having trouble finding any data whatsoever on mulberries. (brix, yield, season length, taste tests etc) absolutely no data available anywhere.

I've already got a Black Dwarf (Buzza) nigra, ok, almost as good as cv. black english
very early september

now i'm after the longest bearing season cultivar i can find.
my list so far (in order)

Illinois Everbearing M. alba X M. rubra Black, nearly seedless fruit large and very long, 1-1/2 inches long x 1/2 inch wide, averaging 12 per ounce. Flavor good to very good, very sweet, considered best by by many. Matures over along season. Tree vigorous and somewhat dwarfed, extremely hardy and productive.

Black Beauty Mulberry Morus nigra Plant Patent 4913 Huge two inch berries

Downing's Ever-bearing M. rubra - produces ripe fruit for nearly four months
except call him an alba

Pakistan Mulberry (Morus rubra 'Pakistan')
now That is one big mulberry.

But there are problems;
seeds? who ever heard of seeds in a mulberry? and the idea doesn't appeal to me either.

people say the hicks fancy (M nigra) tastes like the albas and the rubras, is this true? cause i'd be so annoyed to spend all that money going through quarantine to find out i had a shitty hicks fancy or some such similar thing which would have to be cut straight down.

so i'm entirely sceptical about the Illinois Everbearing M. alba X M. rubra since nobody seems to rave about rubra or alba, but it does appear to have the longest fruiting season
Tom A. reckons "M.nigra/shah-toot, and only have room for one plant, I would do so. I think they are by far the tastiest mulberry species, better than the best varieties of other species."
and i'm inclined to take this person very seriously as "they are my favorite fruit in some ways. " so we know he's definitely sane and sensible.

i'm after longest fruiting season available, and taste as close as possible to black english (or better, if that's possible, in other words good, strong berry flavour) so please add your two cents worth.

what would your own list of favourite cultivars look like?
any thoughts anybody?
please advise me.

and have a lovely day,

The following thread was started by mal on September 07, 2006 at 7:52 am PST

My Two Cents...


I have a relatively young collection of Mulberries:

Persian Black (Morus Nigra), Oscar (M. Alba), White (M. Alba), Phil's Best (M. Alba) and Pakistani (M. Rubra?). In truth, each one has its attributes...and well...I like all of them!

Generally speaking, if you had to have only one mulberry, I would choose the Morus Nigra. It's taste is essentially super sweet and wonderfully tart, one of the best fruits in the world really. Yes, it is in fact in a class by itself with respect to those that follow.

If I had to have only two mulberries, I would then add the White (Morus Alba). I wish I could say that I am familiar with ALL the White cultivars out there, but I am not. I purchased the one that I have from Exotica simply because I tasted the fruit on the premises, from the mother tree that they grafted it from, and I really thought it was quite good. (And, at the time, another customer who happened to be there, said he had eaten White mulberries throughout the middle east (where they are quite popular), and this was the best one he had ever tasted. OK.)

To be clear, a pure White mulberry tastes dramatically different from a Morus Nigra. The White is sweeter, with little or no tartness, a bit of gumminess to it, and a hint of vanilla to it. It is something that is much more like candy than the Morus Nigra, which let's face it, can be like fireworks in your mouth.

I suspect that a tasting of say 20 White cultivars might yield some interesting results. (I have, however tasted a number that were just awful!) I have heard that the vanilla flavor can really be ramped up. Mine has a bit of it, but it is not over the top. I have yet to personally taste a better White than mine, but I believe it is possible...

One of the distinctions with the White is that if you leave it on the tree, it will raisin up, and get even sweeter. I like to eat them at this stage. By contrast, If you leave the Nigra on the tree past its time, it begins to ferment like wine...which is an interesting taste I will grant you...but it can be a bit disquieting at times: is this fruit rotten?

If I were to get a third tree, it would be the Pakistani. The Pakistani which is purple fruited, does not have the fireworks of the Nigra. In that sense, it has a much humbler taste. But...the fruit is quite large, and it has a bit of complexity to it, some would say spiciness.

If I were to get a fourth tree, it would be Phil's Best. Phil's Best is in fact the longest fruiting out of all of them...though I suspect that when my White reaches greater maturity, it might rival the length of fruiting time. Phil's Best is unique in that the fruit is pink/lavender in color. Otherwise, it behaves like the White. It will raisin up if you leave it on the tree. This is a Southern California cultivar and not really in the trades...

Lastly, there is Oscar which is supposedly known for its unique ability to allow you to eat the berries in the immature red stage, and the finished purple stage. I would say: yes that is true, but not surprisingly, I prefer to eat them in the purple stage, at which point, they are quite tasty. A good cultivar, but not necessarily a must have.

As for seeds in mulberries, even when they are there, in the whole scheme of things, they are edible and essentially microscopic, almost like a seed vestige in a seedless grape. If you are a rare fruit person, they would be a complete non-factor.

Would I go through a lot of hassle to get something beyond a good Morus Nigra? Tough call...probably, I would with respect to a really good White.

The above followup was added by Paul on September 07, 2006 at 11:46 pm PST.

now MY two cents

I agree with Paul, more or less. Persian Black is the best mulberry of what I have tasted, though admittedly I haven't the breadth of experience that Paul does. The M. alba cutlivars are what give mulberries a bad name, in my opinion. I don't have good words for them, unlike Paul. To me they are just insipidly sweet.

They are easy to tell apart, the whites begin fruiting in June, the blacks don't start until August along the cool coast. The blacks taste essentially like a perfectly ripe blackberry except slightly more acidic and with a somewhat grassy flavor.

You can't get near them without staining semi-permanently purple.

Unfortunately the only source in quantity is bareroot through LE Cooke, and they top graft onto M. nigra seedling, I think, so the heads are up 6' off the ground when planted, the branches go up from there, the birds get almost all of them because they are too hard to net or even reach. So I grafted a few low onto M. nigra seedlings I ordered, planted one in my backyard, and gave the rest away to a few choice friends. You pick from knee to shoulder level on mine. You want them as black as possible. If red they really wake you up.

I highly recommend black mulberries for any home gardener and I consider them one of the great undiscovered secrets of the "rare fruit" world. I always wonder why they don't get more attention. I suspect it comes down to people hearing about mulberries then tasting the whites, and wondering what all the fuss is about.


The above followup was added by Luen on September 08, 2006 at 8:38 am PST.

ty ty

I have heard through my consumer researchers that you need to be very, very skeptical and careful of any info, or plant materials ordered, from the general region of Ty Ty Georgia.

I would check with the various plant mail order company review services before ordering. Many new, never before heard of varieties seem to pop up in that part of the world, and many plants ordered under different variety names often turn out to be all the same thing.



The above followup was added by David Horowitz on September 08, 2006 at 8:44 am PST.

I'll throw a penny in the pot...

I've been lucky enough to eat a number of different mulberry species and cultivars, both regularly at the USDA germplasm repository for Morus for quite a few years, as well as from collections of some mulberry aficianados. I've also eaten a fair number of M. alba wild seedlings. I also grow and enjoy eating different mulberries, and ate some M.nigra earlier this week. For what it's worth, here are some thoughts both in response to Mal's original post and Paul and Luen's posts above.

To my taste, any M. nigra (aka in English Persian mulberry or black mulberry) selection beats everything else. Some more knowledgeable than I would say that there is very little if any genetic variation among different M.nigra selections. Presumably, any variation that does exist (and it seems to me that there is some variation among some but not all cultivars) is the result of bud sports, since M.nigra doesn't produce viable seed. There's actually some interesting work underway at UC Davis on genetic makeup of different mulberries.

For me in northern California, the peak of the M.nigra ripening is from July 4th to early September.

In terms of taste preference, I'd put the M.alba selections "Oscar's" and "Pakistan" at about the same level, and directly under M.nigra. Pakistan is significantly larger than Oscar's, and I prefer it for that reason. The alba's ripen before the nigra's. Pakistan for me is heaviest between early to mid May and goes until the nigra harvest starts. The next best in terms of flavor I'd say would be Illinois Everbearing, although Rupp's Romainian is probably just about as good.

Illinois Everbearing does have a remarkably long bearing season. But remember, you can graft nigra on alba and vice versa. So you can in one tree have both early-season alba and later nigra.

There are LOTS of selections that would rank lower in terms of flavor. Basically, to my taste, the more acidity in alba, the better they are. The problem is that even in the very best of the alba's (listed above) there isn't very much. But I'll happily eat alba's until the nigra's ripen.

Paul, you should taste the USDA collection. (They're in the same field as the figs, but to the north.) Early June is pretty much the best time. There might be 25 selections (almost all alba). They don't have either Oscar's planted out (although I think I got them to add it to the collection) or Phil's Best.

Luen-- nigra's are MUCH superior to the pedestrian-in-comparison blackberry! I had heard some years ago that LE Cooke was going to start producing some nigra's grafted low, but I haven't seen them in the retail market, so maybe it didn't happen. Burnt Ridge does produce low-grafted trees, but of course their quantities are quite limited. And I think you realize this, but all grafted nigra's are on alba stock (not "nigra seedlings"). You can also grow them on their own roots, which also makes them much more bush-like. I've had a hard time rooting them, but I'm told the key is to use semi-soft cuttings and NOT hardwood/dormant cuttings. I've also grafted them low onto alba seedlings, and they sure are a nicer-to-harvest plant that way.

And I'd agree that the seeds are never an issue in fresh mulberries (as opposed to dried). The bigger issue is the noticeability of the stem. This is much more prominent in many alba's than in nigra. But I get tons of Pakistan fruit, routinely freeze some, and cook with it. I don't remove the stems, and while it's noticeable in baked foods (as well as fresh), it doesn't really bug me. But some people don't like the stems that much in the alba's, which is another advantage of the nigra's. But again, nigra is the berry with the unbelievably big and powerful flavor. To me, the flavor trumps everything else out there.

The above followup was added by Tom A. on September 08, 2006 at 8:48 pm PST.

your change gentlemen,

Paul, thank you so much for the advice. i've only tried one white, and they are just sugar to me, but i'll try out the shahtoot white.

good on you all for taking the time to help me out here.

Tom A. you're a lucky man, and i think we should all gather round and beat you with big sticks for being so lucky. and your advice on alba stems may just have killed my fantastic new idea of the commercial viability of the mulberry.

Luen The blacks taste essentially like a perfectly ripe blackberry but they don't get more attention because the yields are so low per acre, and over such a short season, and they are so soft they bleed juice in the packing box which is death commercially.

but after reading all this an idea occurred to me.

raspberries get around $100 a kilo in the shops at present, which is ridiculous. i would much rather eat a mulberry any day of the week over a raspberry (mind you i'm not saying raspberries are all that bad, i wouldn't knock a bowl full back if offered, but if there was a choice between bowls, i think most people after trying a few would take the bowl of mulberries)
i've got 700 acres unused in southern queensland, and i'm thinking (long term plan) of trying out mulberries which are totally neglected commercially due to the shelf life and fruit softness trouble.

they are too soft, and they do bleed juice when you pack them
but there are heaps of mulberry collections all over the world. india, japan and lots of others maintain huge collections of cultivars, and some have done some breeding ie black beauty and the lalaberry from japan. big berries and firmer than the normal berries.

so it may be possible to get firmer, long fruiting season, higher yielding varieties that still have some M. nigra qualities. i don't think there would be a market for M. alba or the whites, i know i wouldn't pay for the ones i've tried so far. it's that fantastic acid free berry taste thats definitely commercially worthwhile pursuing, but i'll try out lots of these other types and just have a look. maybe one of the new M. nigra cultivars will yield enough to be viable. black beauty, popberry or lala.

i've got about 45 different fruit trees at the moment ( really after a longan x lychee hybrid if you know where i can get one) so i figure bugger it all, i'll start a mulberry collection. whats a few more trees?

so i'm going to try these out

Illinois Everbearing M. alba X M. rubra long season. 4months
Black Beauty Mulberry Morus nigra Plant Patent 4913
Downing's Ever-bearing M. rubra - produces ripe fruit for nearly four months

Pakistan Mulberry (Morus rubra 'Pakistan') 2 month season?

if Phil's Best is in fact the longest fruiting out of all of them, then i'll try him out
Lalaberry 20% higher yield and
Popberry 35% higher yielding over the best yielding

White Shahtoot Mulberry M. alba yields from september to january

i'm after premium berryness and a good long harvest season, but i reckon the fantastic M nigra berryness will not be commercially viable, but maybe some of these others will be ok

Great idea! hey guys?

Definitely suggest more varieties if you think they should be given a try out. i don't care, bung em all in and i'll let you know how it turned out in 5 years time.

(for your interest, the japanese have the largest collection
1,375 genotypes
259 M. alba's but only
2 M. nigra's
“Lalaberry” and “Popberry japanese engineered cultivars)

and thank you all, i know this is not worth pusueing, but at least i'll be drowning in mulberry pie. there are worse ways to go . . .

The above followup was added by mal on September 09, 2006 at 11:51 am PST.

Cold-hardy mulberry?

I stumbled across this discussion when searching for mulberries, and I apologize for interrupting. I know the site is devoted to subtropicals, but could I get a recommendation for a cold-hardy mulberry?

I'm in Zone 5 in Nebraska, where it's hot and dry in the summer and cold and windy in the winter. Native mulberries grow wild around here, and I love them, but they're quite variable in taste. To tell the truth, I've never actually heard of anyone planting a mulberry,... but I did plant an Illinois Everbearing Mulberry this spring.

Next spring, I'd like to plant a second mulberry of a different variety, but most don't seem to be hardy to Zone 5. In email groups, I've heard poor things about 'Wellington,' and good things about 'Oscar's', but the latter doesn't seem to be hardy to Zone 5. Any other suggestions?

I'll need to keep the tree small, so I'll probably have to prune it heavily. Again, the only mulberries I've ever eaten are from volunteer trees. Some had large white berries, but most of those were rather insipid. Still, I'm willing to try anything, if it will grow here and you like the taste (and I can find it mail-order somewhere).

Thanks much,

Lincoln, Nebraska

The above followup was added by Bill Garthright on September 16, 2006 at 8:28 am PST.

Cold-Hardy Mulberries


You might want to start a new thread, as I'm not sure whether many are following this one.

In any case, many NAFEX-ers seem to think that "Illinois Everbearing" is the gold-standard when it comes to cold-hardy mulberries. So I'm not sure whether there's much point in planting anything else in your location; you might do well to just plant another "I.E." next spring.

By the way, even here in Northern California (where M. nigra and tender M. alba selections like "Pakistan" can be grown), some really value "Illinois Everbearing" for its long harvest season.

I also sometimes look in on the Gardenweb -- "Fruits and Orchards" forum, and you might want to post your query there as well. A number of experts on cold-hardy mulberries sometimes contribute there.

The above followup was added by Ashok on September 17, 2006 at 8:29 pm PST.


Thanks, Ashok.


The above followup was added by Bill Garthright on September 18, 2006 at 5:49 am PST.

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