Best mulberry varieties

What to Plant?


The variety of selections could appear overwhelming because it appears as if there are dozens of various species and cultivars from which to decide on. The “Kew Plant Checklist” exhibits 213 species names below the genus of Morus, however as of June 2016, lists solely 17 species as being “accepted”. The variety of first rate fruit bearing species is even much less. Most mulberries offered for fruit in the US are cultivars of Morus alba (White Mulberry), Morus rubra (Purple Mulberry), Morus nigra (Black Mulberry), and Morus macroura (Himalayan Mulberry), or hybrids (crosses) between M. alba and M. rubra, and probably M. macroura. A number of cultivars of Morus nigra (Black Mulberry) exist, however this creator has not seen direct proof of hybridization of Morus nigra with different Morus species (I’ve been fortunately confirmed mistaken! It seems that hybridization can happen: A Belgium nurseryman has produced Morus nigra hybrids with Morus kagayameMorus macroura, and probably Morus laevigata)


The web is stuffed with misinformation surrounding mulberries. One of the vital blatant errors is “If it has black fruit, it’s a Morus nigra”. Many buying makes an attempt of Morus nigra (on-line or from native nurseries) particularly within the japanese half of the US, end in receiving Morus albas (the ‘Dwarf Everbearing’ Mulberry and ‘Gerardi’ cultivars are NOT Morus nigra, although extensively claimed).

Notice: Tables could not seem, or seem appropriately, on cell telephones.

From “California Uncommon Fruit Growers” (

“The colour of the fruit doesn’t determine the mulberry species. White mulberries, for instance, can produce white, lavender or black fruit. White mulberry fruits are usually very candy however usually missing in wanted tartness. Purple mulberry fruits are normally deep purple, virtually black, and in the very best clones have a taste that nearly equals that of the black mulberry. Black mulberry fruits are massive and juicy, with an excellent steadiness of sweetness and tartness that makes them the very best flavored species of mulberry.”


Consumers have to be extraordinarily cautious when shopping for mulberries based mostly upon identify alone. Mulberries don’t share the esteemed place of being developed and patented by universities and agricultural institutes, and consequently, their names maintain little authority. Typically, it is not the nursery being deceitful, however quite a common lack of understanding and concern for the lowly mulberry.

Tasting a sure cultivar first hand is actually probably the most dependable technique to discovering a mulberry that may please you. Be sure you pattern a number of from the identical plant, as their taste tends to range based on the diploma of “ripeness”. Cultivars of Morus alba (White Mulberry) and Morus macroura (Himalayan) are first to turn out to be obtainable for tasting within the spring. Subsequent shall be Morus rubra (Purple Mulberry) varieties and hybrids, whereas Morus nigra is final to ripen in summer season months. In case you are tasting what’s presupposed to be a Morus nigra in spring (USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Eight or colder), it most likely shouldn’t be. Morus albas are sometimes being offered because the extra flavorful Morus nigra in areas of the humid south and the chilly north as a result of in these areas of North America the fascinating Morus nigra doesn’t thrive properly.

If native buy shouldn’t be an choice, it might be advisable to do a web based search of dependable plant nurseries earlier than making a purchase order. “Backyard Watchdog” ( is an effective place to begin. “Backyard Watchdog” has scores on over 7000 distributors.

The position of the assorted cultivars into their corresponding species on this web site was principally derived from the Morus accessions listing on the “U.S. Nationwide Plant Germplasm System (NPGS)” web site ( The database is an effective useful resource, however one have to be conscious that a lot of the cultivar placement contained therein relies solely on taxonomy determinations and never genetic testing. Additionally, contemplating the convenience at which the assorted species (besides nigra) can cross (type hybrids), maybe most cultivars do not signify any explicit species class, however are as a substitute hybrids. Due to this fact, please take a look at the cultivars listed below a selected species as having traits which closest match the taxonomy of that species class and never a “pure” genetic make-up.


Cultivars are likely to range drastically in taste relying on the local weather, soil, daylight, and care the place they’re grown. A cultivar of Morus alba grown in a fertile California soil could also be reported as “flavorful”, whereas the identical cultivar within the sandy soil of Florida, could style “bland”. Additionally, remember, a cultivar named ‘Oscar’ from one nursery, may very well be one thing else at one other nursery…So it’s ALWAYS advisable to purchase domestically after “style testing”.

Watch out about choosing cultivars that will not face up to the local weather of your space. Though the cultivar could match the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone on your space, in case your local weather is fraught with onerous freezes occurring after a number of weeks of very heat temperatures, you is perhaps higher served in buying a extra chilly hardy cultivar, since many cultivars (‘Shangri-La’ for instance) will proceed to bud and leaf out on the trace of spring. ‘Silk Hope’ and ‘Illinois Everbearing’ are two mulberry cultivar examples which have a delayed awakening, and aren’t normally fooled by a pair weeks of heat climate. It needs to be famous, practically all mulberries will develop even within the excessive tropics, however illness issues and fruiting points from lack of winter chill could make rising problematic. One orchard grower within the Philippines strips the branches of leaves of his purported ‘Illinois’ mulberry timber to induce fruiting; claiming to have achieved as much as six crops a 12 months. So the higher “USDA Zone” quantity listed is only a steered vary for straightforward look after that exact cultivar.

One other consideration in choosing a mulberry cultivar relies on how you intend to take pleasure in your plant. Many individuals are interested in the “everbearing” varieties with the hope of having fun with their contemporary fruit over an prolonged interval of a number of months. In an ideal world, the “everbearing” varieties are a superb selection, however there are a number of factors that should be thought of. In case your plan is to prune your plant and preserve it small, you’ll compete for the few mulberries ripening each day with birds and a bunch of different diurnal and nocturnal critters (Whereas they probably may lack in intelligence over their human rival, they excel in persistence). So barring colossal measures to guard your fruit, a extra life like strategy is perhaps to let the plant turn out to be a big tree; then there shall be loads for everybody. Nonetheless, one other issue is because the “everbearing mulberry” continues to provide into the summer season, bugs and the warmth of summer season trigger points. Thrips, fruit flies, and different bugs can turn out to be a difficulty because the temperature heats up. And, extremely popular summer season temperatures could cause the fruit to turn out to be considerably desiccated, or in depth summer season rains could cause a bunch of different points.

‘David Smith’, ‘Illinois’ Everbearing’, ‘Silk Hope’, ‘Gerardi Dwarf’ and lots of different’s ARE glorious “everbearing” selections in the appropriate circumstances, BUT do not underestimate the advantages of a mulberry tree that produces quite a lot of fruit which ripen over a reasonably brief interval. Even with a small, properly pruned tree, it’s best to take pleasure in an excellent portion of the crop. Mulberries freeze very properly and have many makes use of (see “The Bounty” web page).


This creator has tried to position the assorted cultivars in particular species classes, however really feel time and genetic testing will uncover many errors.

The cultivars listed on this web site are only a sampling of well-liked cultivars of mulberries, and by no means supposed to mitigate different cultivars one could discover. 


Most mulberry cultivars are self-fruitful and don’t require a male pollinator, however there’s some proof that implies pollination can enhance the scale of fruit and yield

Morus alba (White Mulberry)

Morus alba holds middle stage as for having probably the most cultivars. Whereas, certainly, there are numerous white-fruited cultivars, most cultivars have ripe fruit that’s pink to black in colour. The white fruited Morus alba taste is distinct from the darkish fruited Morus alba; the previous reported to be harking back to watermelon.

Morus alba has a variety of fruit high quality, though style could be extremely subjective. Morus alba cultivars are usually described as being “candy”, whereas Morus rubra cultivars and hybrids are considered extra “flavorful”. Morus macroura has a novel “raspberry” taste, and Morus nigra most frequently holds the very best style score.

White Mulberry grows and fruits greatest when planted the place it would obtain at the very least Four hours of full solar per day. It will possibly deal with poorer and drier soils than Morus rubra varieties. Wants minimal care and fertilization as soon as established. Soil pH needs to be lower than 7.5. Can develop to 70 ft and reside 250 years. Has been discovered at elevations as much as 10,000 ft. 

Florida Large (M. alba)

Standard alba cultivars; however your native nursery could have superb, domestically tailored cultivars not listed right here.
Photos with a grid sample depicting dimension are from the U.S. Nationwide Plant Germplasm System web site. 

Notice: Click on blue cultivar identify to view picture.

Morus rubra (Purple Mulberry)

Morus rubra normally performs higher than Morus alba in much less sunny places, though fruit yield has a powerful relationship to the quantity of daylight. M.rubra prefers moist, organic-rich soil, however will thrive in drier soil sorts as soon as established. Established M.rubra timber may even face up to having their roots flooded for durations of a number of months. Morus rubra can thrive in additional alkaline soils than Morus alba or Morus macruora. Morus rubra is native to North America, however pure strains of Morus rubra could also be turning into uncommon, as one research of Purple Mulberries in Canada put the prevalence of hybridization with Morus alba at 54%. (1).

Purple Mulberry timber usually set fruit individually alongside a department, whereas the White Mulberry usually units fruit in clusters. The fruit is usually most well-liked to be eaten whereas it’s nonetheless fairly purple (earlier than turning reddish-black), because it has a nice tart style at that stage.

Morus rubra has fewer obtainable cultivars than Morus alba, maybe on account of the truth that Morus alba was grown in huge portions (2,3) all through the japanese United States for elevating silkworms (Bombyx mori), whereas Morus rubra was not readily accepted by the silkworm.


Purple Mulberry grows in full solar to partial shade (fruits heaviest in full solar). Prefers a moist soil that’s excessive in natural matter, however will develop in a variety of soil sorts as much as pH 8.5. As soon as established it could actually survive drought and prolonged flooding. Can develop to 70 ft. Grows at elevations of 3500 ft, probably increased.

A lot of the knowledge on Purple Mulberry cultivars comes from a 1906 publication titled The Evolution of Our Native Fruits, by Liberty Hyde Bailey. It’s unlucky that this glorious native tree has such restricted variety of cultivars and is so troublesome to acquire. Younger timber are normally not very prolific, and their productiveness varies by 12 months. However their stunning tree form, and progress fee which is extra manageable than Morus alba, warrants giving them a lot consideration.
Purple Mulberry timber could be present in nurseries within the japanese half of the US focusing on native crops.

Photos with a grid sample depicting dimension are from the U.S. Nationwide Plant Germplasm System web site. 

Morus nigra (Black Mulberry)

Morus nigra is exclusive amongst mulberries in that it’s extremely polyploidy; that’s, as a substitute of 14 pairs of chromosomes (28 chromosomes) present in Morus alba and rubra, it has 14 units of 22 equivalent chromosomes (308 chromosomes). Extremely polyploid species like Morus nigra could also be extra proof against producing new varieties, since even when a mutation happens in a single chromosome, it’s masked by the countering chromosomes (4). Maybe because of this, there seem to be fewer distinctions between the so-named cultivars.


Morus nigra can deal with increased alkaline soil than the opposite mulberry species. Preferring a Mediterranean-type local weather, it has a reasonably restricted vary right here within the US, being confined primarily to US Agricultural Zones 6-9 west of the Mississippi. In different areas of the US the place it occurs to happen, it does so unwillingly; being keen about chilly or illness.

Black Mulberry is the slowest rising mulberry species and likewise the longest lived. Typically thought of to have probably the most flavorful fruit. Handles drier soil than alba or rubra. Wants full solar to fruit properly. Can develop to 45 ft and reside 500 years or extra. Grows at elevations of as much as 6500 ft.

Nigra berries.jpg

Black Mulberry (Morus nigra)

Notice: There’s little or no distinction in look between most cultivars of Morus nigra.

*Notice: Morus nigra has been reported to thrive in dry winter places of USDA Hardiness Zone 6, however is not going to tolerate a moist winter Zone 6.

Morus macroura (Lengthy mulberry, Tibetan or Himalayan mulberry)

There are undoubtedly many various cultivars of Morus macroura within the US, however most are known as both white, purple, or black ‘Pakistan’ or ‘Shahtoot’ (which interprets from the Persian language as ‘King Mulberry’), although some cultivars or hybrids of Morus alba are additionally known as ‘Pakistan’ as a result of they possess elongated fruit (or known as Morus alba in error). ‘Himalayan’ mulberry usually refers to a separate species named Morus serrata, however I’ve little information of this species. And Morus macroura is “King” certainly, with a fruit that typically exceeds 4 inches in size. The flavour of the purple cultivars is usually described as raspberry like and is normally most well-liked to be consumed whereas nonetheless agency. The fruit is mostly firmer and fewer staining than different species of mulberry.


Morus macroura does properly within the deep south, withstanding intense warmth and humidity. It additionally seems to be probably the most illness resistant species of mulberry. Though it is just beneficial for USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9 and 10, it has been reported to outlive right down to Zone 8 (with remoted studies of ‘Pakistan’ surviving right down to Zone 6 with correct acclimation), however most crops of fruit shall be misplaced to late freezes. Additionally, onerous freezes after spring bud break could severely harm the plant. Generally rising to 100 ft (Thailand; unverified), it normally stays properly under 60 ft in top. It tolerates a variety of soil sorts and is reported to even develop in heavy clays.

Morus macroura ‘Pakistan’

Morus hybrids

Though solely a few hybrids are listed right here, this creator feels that most mulberry cultivars will be discovered, via in depth genetic testing, to be hybrids (crosses) between the assorted Morus species; This listing will more than likely develop significantly within the years to come back.

Hybrids are shaped solely between Morus alba, Morus rubra, Morus macroura, and different 28 chromosome mulberry species, however NOT Morus nigra, which has 308 chromosomes.

Photos with a grid sample depicting dimension are from the U.S. Nationwide Plant Germplasm System web site. 

Notice: Click on blue cultivar names to veiw photos.

References (this web page solely):

(1) Asymmetrical introgression between two Morus species (M. alba, M. rubra) that differ in abundance.
      Ok.S. BURGESS, M. MORGAN, L. DEVERNO and B.C. HUSBAND; Molecular Ecology [2005] 14, 3471–3483

(4) Just lately shaped polyploid crops diversify at decrease charges.  MAYROSE, I, S. H. ZHAN, C.J. ROTHFELS, Ok.                       MAGNUSON-FORD, M. S.BARKER, L. H. RIESEBERG, S. P. AND OTTO [2011]

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