Are mulberries a suitable replacement for blackberries?

I have never grown mulberries before this year. On one side of my orchard was a wild mulberry tree that was about 7’ high. I almost removed it when a nice forum member sent me some Illinois Everbearing scions. I grafted on several sticks. They all took and every time I walked by they appeared to have grown about a foot (exaggerate). The leaves are falling and each scion has grown about 8-9’. Each scion also produced a couple of fruit samples which I thought were very good. The fruit left long enough to turn black and was sweet without any noticeable seeds. Pick with a little red on them and the taste was similar to a blackberry.

7 Likes

In my opinion mulberries are OK, but nowhere near as good as a good blackberry.

4 Likes

If you’re hungry, both get the job done nicely!

But, the public is accustomed to blackberries and not mulberries.
Also, the birds steal a higher portion of the mulberries.

2 Likes

They both vary a lot. There is one mulberry that’s better tasting than the best blackberry I’ve had. Morus Nigra mulberry is better tasting than Marion blackberry. Those are fairly widely recognized as best of species. Now there may be wild blackberries that are even better than Marion.

The M nigra is also much messier and hard to harvest at the right stage.

9 Likes

Sounds like you grafted a winner. My mulberries have grown slowly. To me the silk hope is way better than any blackberry (plus no thorns!) but the shangri la isn’t worth harvesting. I have a couple more varieties planted that haven’t fruited yet. I would be interested in planting enough varieties to spread harvest over a longer window, since I don’t really have time to pick and process other fruits during the blueberry season.

6 Likes

I’ve got silk hope mulberry and several blackberry varieties. For fresh eating the mulberries are much much better. But I’ve made jam out of both and the mulbs lack the acidity to generate the tangyness that makes a good jam. The mulberries are better for making a sweet syrup. But again for fresh eating the mulbs absolutely can replace blackberries at least for me.

8 Likes

I say yes.
Positives: They’re more flavor varieties. They have smaller seeds. No thorns or brambles to stick yourself with. Easier to contain with no rhizomes to curtail. Seems a lot more resistant to SWD.

Negatives: Lots of pruning to keep short. Fruit is more fragile so juice gets all over when picking. Stems are somewhat offputting to newbies. Squirrels and birds constantly try to beat you to the fruit.

Mulberries make a great pie and are easy to harvest. I have acid ctrus to I can add acidity for pies and jams myself…

7 Likes

Mulberries are palatably different than Rubus. Personally I’m not going to place one above the other for taste. My wife Janet though has zero tolerance for fresh mulberries.

I expect mulberry flavors vary by both personal tastes and climate. At present I have about 3 dozen fruiting mulberries in Stuewe TP1020R 5.9 gallon treepots here in Vista CA. I’ve tried planting them in the ground but they quickly turned into monsters and were thus removed.

Of those in the pots, there are 30 different names and perhaps 4-5 different species and hybrids. I suspect most of the names are unique. I’ll check up on it in a couple of years when I’ve finished with the genomics of our figs.

Like Rubus, there are several different Morus (mulberry) flavors. Of those I’ve tried, here are those that stand out:

  • Honeydrops - excellent, the best of the purely sweet fruits. One, sometimes two crops in the Spring.
  • Richard’s Red Buff - it is said to be Illinois Everbearing but I’m partial to the name. It is very good, a bit like Raspberry. It fruits repeatably through Summer here.
  • Morus nigra - it is like some true blackberries. I don’t think my climate provides enough heat when the berries are on the branches. Fruitnut makes a good point above about the stage needed to avert tartness. Mine never get there. Usually only one crop.
  • Morus macroura - aka Pakistan (sometimes). This develops an excellent flavor in my location and good size fruits as well. The blooming starts about the same time as others, but it takes a few weeks for all the nodes to blossom. It is a relatively longer fruit so ripening takes awhile too. Harvest is usually spread out over weeks. The flavor is … well … mulberry!
  • Shangra La - produces a medium size fruit with taste similar to Pakistan. My daughter Tracy prefers it over Pakistan, while I am reversed. It is a keeper.
  • Kokuso - watery taste, year after year. I only mention it to warn others.
9 Likes

I have a thornless blackberry that covers about 200 sq ft, and I get maybe 2-3 lb annually of very nice berries; I have a iE tree that is now about 20 years old and it covers about the same space, and we get about 60-70 lb of even sweeter delicious fruit annually. You do the math! I prefer the IE any day
Dennis
Kent, wa

12 Likes

@DennisD
I have an in-ground Olallieberry with minor thorns contained to 9 sq.ft. It provides 4-5 lbs of fruit annually.

1 Like

I’m having blueberry upsidedowncake for Thanksgiving…because I don’t have any mulberries in the freezer.

3 Likes

@Auburn … I would gladly trade you some gerardi mulberry scionwood… for a few sticks of improved keifer pear & orient pear.

I hope to graft those two and a native homestead keifer onto some callery rootstock this spring.

Gerardi grew very well for me last year… over 6 ft of growth from graft. 8 shoots grew 6 ft or more. Should get a bunch of fruit this year.

If you do want to trade some wood let me know.
Thanks

TNHunter

2 Likes

Sent you a private message

I like mulberry better, mine is silk Hope. I used to have abundance of blackberries, sometime I just don’t eat them. I don’t have enough of mulberries here. I don’t cook nor make jam, I just eat them fresh.

7 Likes

Silk hope is the best mulberry variety for me. I think it is better tasting than IE, Pakistan or Gerardi which I am also growing.

4 Likes

@ramv … I have gerardi and adding silk hope this spring (hopefully).

Have you noticed any differences in fruiting periods for those two ?

Is one earlier, later, fruit longer, prune it after first fruiting and it fruits again ???

Thanks

Productivity of caneberries (per square foot?) is typically higher than those mentioned above.

Silk hope seems to have a long season. Starts in June here and goes on atleast till late August.
My Gerardi is neglected and did not produce well for the last couple of seasons.

3 Likes

Once I got my wife to taste mulberry, it became her favorite fruit. Absence of significant seeds was a key difference vs blackberries.

2 Likes

I can’t speak to IE mulberry though I have two on order for this spring and they are self rooted so I may get an orchard with suckers. IE seems to be the most propagated one and I presume there is reason for that. I did have a Girardi Dwarf mulberry and have Arkansas Freedom Blackberries. Keep in mind I only had my Girardi 1 year before canning it when I talk. What I will say what they said above fits the mold. My Girardi missed the acidic factor blackberries have. My Arkansas Freedom blackberry have a strong sweetness but a strong acid flavor too that my Girardi mulberry lacked. I will say my Girardi did produce way more in it’s first year than my blackberry though. At first I thought the berries were leaves because they came on before the leaves and they were so plentiful on the Girardi, With my blackberries I get 3 or 4 per stem.

1 Like