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Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Posted by infiniteohms 5 Me (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 10, 13 at 20:11

I have Illinois Everbearing, which i think is quite good, but I am interested on hearing what cultivars people have grown in zone 5 and which they like the best. I also have Beautiful Day and Pendula, but they haven't fruited yet.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Morus nigra, "Black Beauty" is by far the tastiest I've tried, and does very well for me here, having survived subzero temps every winter (as well as a record -23 it's first winter in the ground). BUT, I'm aware that none of the nigra varieties seem to be recommended for the Northeast, I think due to humidity.

I will be interested to see what others have to say on this...


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

thanks for the feedback fabaceae, i would love to trade for some dormant cuttings off your "Black Beauty" tree and give it a try here in the humid northeast. Please let me know if that would be a possibility.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Heres' what Burnt Ridge has to say about Black Beauty. If what they say is remotely accurate, tree will not be long lived in Z5 NE conditions. I'll be interested if it survives -10 in NM. That would indicate the zone description is highly inaccurate.

"Mulberry fans consider this black mulberry the best flavored of all; large soft, juicy, intense, sweet/tart berries from July to Sept. By far the most staining of all mulberry. Fruit with significant, blood red, messiness potential. This variety is a natural dwarf, grafted low, so it will be a bush. Of central Asian origin. Mysteriously, this species is not found anywhere in the wild. A polyploid (over 300 chromosomes in the nucleus instead of the usual 12) it generally has sterile seeds. Not widely adapted outside the Pacific Coast states & Southwest as it is only hardy to about 0° F and too disease prone in the humid Southeastern U.S. Zone 7-10."


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

H-man, as I said above it is has survived those temps every winter, including -23 its first winter in the ground. It had very little dieback that year. So, yes it is much hardier than the above description suggests, but then again, zone 6 NM is quite different from zone 6 NY for example.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

looking at what some other nurseries say it would not appear to be only hardy to zone 7, others say 5 or even 4. You never know until you try, i have grown several zone 6 plants for a few years and have stuff that is listed in various resources as zone 7 or even 8. Micro climate can make a big difference.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

It seems ll mulberries labled as "black" have a zone 7 limit. But if it can survive, any of them sound really good. I love the flavor of mulberries. The dwarf ones appeal to me. I only forage mulberries, and a couple of the trees are so large, I cannot shake the limbs to harvest. I refuse to pick them, that takes too long. Luckily I know of a couple wild ones still small enough for me to climb into the tree and shake the ripes ones loose. I use a canvas painters cloth to catch the fallen fruits. Easy!
Whitman farms and the famous Lucile describe two black cultivars James II and Noir of Spain as only to zone 7.
Burnt Ridge and Whitman both have a lot of mulberries for zone 5. Man I want those small ones; dwarf, and contorted.
I guess one could prune to keep small too.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

I had the pleasure of visiting Whitman Farms a few years back and Lucile convinced me to try Oscar. I bought Oscar and IE but I lost them due to not watering them in my garage during the winter. (I was a real newbie as these were the very first trees I bought)

She swore that Oscar was superior to IE and she definitely knew I was from Denver.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

I got Oscar from her as well but IE is more flavorful as grown here. Oscar is well suited for harvesting large quantities for preserves or wine, though, as its picking time is much more concentrated than IE.

Fab, that is very interesting. I may order a tree from BR just to try it out.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Don't know where our buddy 'grapenut' has gone - haven't seen him around in at least a couple of years. He had extensive experience with mulberries - and knew, personally, the guy who bred Oscar - IIRC, it was better in Riverside CA, where it originated, than in his orchard in OR. That and other notes we compared from time to time convinced me that some varieties excel in certain spots, while they're mediocre in others.
Have a buddy in Flint MI who says IE is poor there, and sent me one that's his top producer; here, it's mediocre at best, easily surpassed by IE.
Stearns is good here, and folks I know in IN & NY like David Smith Everbearing. Collier was so-so here; Wellington generally gets good reviews, but it's a dog here.
With M.nigra out of the picture here, I'll put in a plug for M.rubra - never tasted a bad one; some produce more heavily than others, but the fruit is always good.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

I live in Ohio. I used to enjoy wild mulberries from our area. So I planted an IE. The fruit was tolerable at best. It had little flavor. The center was "chewy" and "stringy". (None of my other fruits, even my blackberries which include the core, have this obnoxious chewy texture.) I ripped mine out. Didn't compare to the ones we used to pick wild. However, you may have better luck.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

I can't compare IE with anything else since it's the only one I have. I find it to be exceptional here in our arid sun baked climate. No chewy center and lots of flavor.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

I'm with isoh, at my cottage are 5 or 6 wild trees, and the fruit is fantastic. I want a contorted one for looks. I always will go harvest the wild ones for taste. The fruit is dark, and very small, but the trees can produce more than one crop.
The wild raspberries are exceptional too.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Interesting note about mulberry variety hardiness: Both Pakistan and Black Beauty (nigra) are usually rated to zone 7, but my two trials with the former failed miserably, the tree being killed by single digit temps, while the latter has been completely hardy in my zone, even in especially cold years.

And while the assumption is that Morus nigra is not possible in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, there are folks growing Pakistan in those areas successfully! I can say for certain that if you can grow Pakistan even with protection, you can definitely grow a nigra, at least from the hardiness standpoint.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Just looking at L.E. Cooke website, which indeed rates Black Beauty hardy to zone 4, as the original poster of this thread noted above. Interestingly, I am quite sure the two trees I have are from L.E. Cooke, though I got them from a local nursery which had grown them in pots for a season. I hope some of you outside of the Southwest and West Coast do give these trees a try though...


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Black Beauty is a polyploid, not occurring in nature. May have been made using mutagenic drugs. Some drugs can be used on seeds to make polyploids. Sounds exactly what I'm looking for, a small tree with good fruit! I'm sure other ways for polyploidy to occur. I heard of this method from a pot grower way back in the 70's. Colchicine can be used to create polyploid plants. polyploid plants are very common these days.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Regarding morus nigra, I think it is by far the most delicious mulberry period and perhaps a top 5 fruit in the world overall for raw eating experience for flavor intensity, texture, juiciness, etc.

My understanding is the limitation is not the hardiness at all--but rather the humidity here in the mid-atlantic and the NE that it does not like. Michael at EL and others have tried with fail to grow it. It can certainly survive relatively cold winters, but will likely be a sad, sickly plant that may not bear fruit even if plant stays alive.

Pakistan's only issue is hardiness, if grown protected it does fine in our humid areas it seems. Pakistan is a very rich and awesome tasting fruit but sweet. Nigra is a rich sweet-tart balance fruit and way more intense in your face flavor. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from giving it a try as I'd like to hear a success story as it's one of my favorite fruits. Non-nigra mulberry can be fantastic too. I have thought about growing nigra in a location that's protected from *rainfall* a little with a roof over top... I have no direct personal experience growing it in humid climate, just have have heard from others. I have have tasted much fruit in Iran right off of nigra trees that grow very nicely including in northern Iran where it can get cold the winters not just in southern Iran... and people have had the plant survive in our mid-Atlantic zones it sounds like. Just no tasty fruit or too healthy of a plant even all the way down in Georgia and/or Florida If I remember right nigra is a bust. So all humidity it seems--not hardiness. I think flavor performance on non-nigras is all very location dependent so Oscar may best in one place but IE could consistently beat it elsewhere.

Nigra in Iran is one of the most mindblowing fruit I've ever had so any trial even if failed I think wouldn't hurt.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

I am Trying Black Beauty in N. GA as well as about 8 other cultivars. I just put in as a small plant last spring so this will be 1st winter for it, but here the humidity I expect to be more of an issue. It did well this summer but sure did not grow as vigorous.

I have read that Kokuso is very hardy. Might be one for you to try. I was successful with 1 cutting of Kokuso #20 last spring I think it is the Kokuso that is sold by a few nurseries.

This post was edited by strudeldog on Wed, Nov 13, 13 at 19:54


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Yes I want to try it because in MI we really don't have a humidity problem, and it doesn't rain much in the Midwest. You would think it would with the great lakes, but MI is right after TX in rainfal. We get slightly more. MN has less than TX. It should grow here IF hardiness isn't the concern.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

  • Posted by skyjs z8 OR, USA (My Page) on
    Thu, Nov 14, 13 at 0:15

Rain isn't really the problem as we get more rain here in the PNW than anywhere in the lower 48. It's summer rain and humidity apparently. I grow nigra, and many who have tried different varieties seemed to like it best, including me. White mulberries (alba) are completely uninteresting here, although many like IE here as well.

The mulberries are about the last tree to leaf out so winter and spring rain arent' such a problem. We are very dry with no humidity in the summer.
John S
PDX OR


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Thanks for all the great info and discussion everyone!

I'd really like to try some of these marginal cultivars for my area, but not really excited about putting a lot of money into a tree that is likely not to survive, so if anyone is willing to swap me some dormant (unrooted) cuttings off their trees i would be stoked to make a trade. I have lots of stuff to trade with, check out my list if you like.

Here is a link that might be useful: My trade list


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

We have a neighbor with a mulberry in the front yard....it is at least 15 years old and more likely 20-25 which means it has survived numerous/annual dips into -20F and below.

The tree is healthy, no significant die back, with a compact umbrella like dwarf habit...maybe 16' tall max. I don't think it has seen pruning or care for the last 10 years and still looks "tidy".
The fruit ripens over a relatively short time to uniform dark black and are very good. Far superior to the other tree on the place which is more akin to the wild ones I remember (and a mangy monster)

I know little of mulberry except the wild ones growing in northern Illinois where I grew up. So I can't even begin to ID the tree.
I am fairly sure it was planted by the previous owner who did a fair bit of edible landscaping...so the tree was purchased in. And I believe I can see a graft about 6" above soil line. Unfortunately, my interest in it arose after she moved so I can't quiz her.

I have thought about reading up on them this winter and make an attempt to propagate it over to our place with an appropriate rootstock. The present owners are good friends and I am sure I can prune out some scion for myself and to share with others.
I could also quiz them a bit more for details on ripening and such that might aide in ID?


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Windfall: your neighbor's tree definitely does not sound like Morus nigra, since the latter has a very long ripening period, mid July into September for me. Likely a named cultivar though, due to graft. Probably a Morus alba or hybrid.

Skyjs: Not sure about the summer humidity thing, my climate is wettest in the summer, dry the rest of the year. But then again, we still don't get the crazy sticky heat like back East.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

I'm not sure about the rainfall in the PNW John,as Seattle was or is rated at 44th of major US cities in amount,with about 36 inches yearly.Portland is close,with a little more,at about 40 inches.We do get a lot of overcast days,which may cause some people who don't live in the area to think of it as a wet place. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Northwest Weather


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

I am a big fan of the Weeping Mulberry. Good taste, easy to pick and manage, and hardy in zone 5.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden For Nutrition


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Looking into mulberries it seems most are Alba or Nigra, but many others exist.
Morus Bombycis - Contorted Mulberry. Seems to be different cultivars. One reported as small is Morus bombycis ‘Unryu’. I'm looking for small trees, so this fits.
I have seen this reported as Alba also??
Morus Macroura - Gerardi Dwarfing Bush Mulberry
Also have seen this reported as Alba??

So I'm a little confused on that??

Others seen are
M. rubra (used in crosses with Alba)
KOKUSO MULBERRY (Morus latifolia)
Dark fruited Korean variety. Earlier ripening than Illinois with very high quality firm fruit. Reportedly even hardier than Illinois Everbearing and grown even farther North, up into Minnesota.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

I saw this one at Logee's,Drew.It looks like it stays small and they state that it fruits most the year and keeps it's leaves indoors, when it has enough light. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Mulberry ‘Issai’ (Morus alba) at Logee's


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

, I did a little research on it and Issai will grow to 6 to 8 ft outdoors. Berries the size of blackberries. Not bad, it sounds like one that certainly fits what I'm looking for. Thanks Brady for mentioning it. I added it to my want list.
This one is actually very ornamental. So is the weeping mulberry. Man lot's of cool mulberries. But black beauty will be first as fruit is very important to me. Also though ornamental value is important to me. Having an edible landscape in the burbs will draw more people to 'grow their own'. That it looks nice yet very practical. I like that idea a lot.


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Geraldi/Gerardi/Girardi however you choose to spell it is a true dwarf. The nodes are very close thus a lot of fruit in a small package. I find the fruit pleasant but not in Nigra league. I have seen a couple species listings for it, but I tend to believe not a straight Alba. Even the twigs/bark appear different to me. I have also noted when trying to root it is the only cultivar I have tried that has not callused up at all. I have had more failure than success rooting mulberry, but most callused up heavy and many showed some root formation to later fail, not Girardi it never even show and indication of wanting to root. 2 that rooted readily for me were Shangri La and Middleton


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

So what would be the best variety for the far northern edge of zone 4 near St. Paul, MN? Space is not an issue.
Northwoodswis


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Growing in zone 7 I can't relate experience for zone 4, but based on reading I would try Illinois Everbearing or Kokuso. The zone listing for Nigra cultivars seem all over the map to me everywhere from zone 8 to zone 4. But a Nigra fruit is worth that gamble so I would do both a Black Beauty and one of the above. Black Beauty as a Nigra because of some listing it zone 4 and the above comments. I am growing all 3 and several others just not in zone 4.

This post was edited by strudeldog on Fri, Nov 15, 13 at 14:44


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Strudeldog, thanks for the advice. Back in the '70s had a wild mulberry tree come up at the edge of my strawberry bed. I read that it would keep the birds out of the berries, so I left it, but didn't realize they were edible to humans! It eventually was shading my garden too much, plus it didn't seem to keep the birds out of the berries, anyway, so after several years I cut it down. Have no idea how they tasted. There was no Gardenweb to get advice from back then. Northwoodswis


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RE: Best Mulberries for USDA zone 5

Does anyone know if Black Beauty is patented? I tried to Google it but didn't find anything. If not, anyone have scion they will trade for IE?


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