Are mulberries a suitable replacement for blackberries?

I’m a little disheartened to hear the reviews on mulberries. Growing up, I used to feast on the Italian Gelso Nero in central Italy. I rooted an Oscar and a Kokuso mulberry with the hope of achieving a similar tasting mulberry from my childhood. They didn’t fruit this year and they’re sitting in 8 gallon pots my garage for the winter. I was planning on putting them in the ground next year. Reading folks’ reviews of mulberries vs blackberries brings my spirits down a bit. Unfortunately the Italian Gelso Nero needs a bit more heat than what I would be able to provide here in MA zone 6b.

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Unfortunately kokuso has been a flop for me. Maybe the second worst tasting mulberry I have grown. The worst was “worlds best”.
I will top work that mulberry this year.

Other mulberries such as Silk Hope, Pakistan, Australian green and Nigra are absolutely excellent tasting

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IE seems to be the most propagated one and I presume there is reason for that.

What’s an IE Mulberry?

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Illinois everbearing. i put in 2 in Aug. That Barkslip kindly grafted to albas for me. hope they make it through the winter fine. have a Riverview that’s about 8ft. hopefully get to taste the fruit next summer. my Northrup got zapped to the snowline last winter. came back vigorously and is now 6ft. someday I’ll get to taste a mulberry.

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Like Steve said IE is what people use short for Illinois Everbearing.

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Are mulberries a suitable replacement for blackberries?

Yes… well maybe.

If you have any thoughts that at some point in your lifetime that pollinators could be impacted negatively… or live in an area with little or no bees.

Mulberries need no pollinators to fruit. Which make them a good fruiting thing to have in areas that have very low or no habitats for bees.

Also would be a good ‘prepper’ tree to have… as the leaves can easily feed livestock.

Mulberries thrive in environments where other trees struggle to survive. So if you have an area of land that is too poor to sustain much else… a mulberry tree would be happy to live there.

Finally from my perspective as a lover of blackberries and other cane fruits- The Red Mulberry is absolutely worth growing if you love and want more wildlife on your property. It attracts and can feed up to 60 or more species of birds and other creatures. The red mulberry can grow from seed and is proliferated by birds. So its something that they want to share and create their own food forages and habitats.

The red mulberry also attracts insects which also attract insectivorous birds… which is handy if you dont like to spray insecticides.

So think about planting a native Red Mulberry along with your hybrid…if you want to contribute to wildlife…and enjoy some the fruits yourself.

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Illinois Everbearing is a very popular variety that tends to do well in more northern zones… I hear they are quiet susceptible to popcorn disease which is not that common in cooler climates.

In the Hot/Humid South… Silk Hope seems to be the mulberry that is best suited and is quite resistant to popcorn disease. I think it originated in NC.

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Found by Dr. A.J Bullard in Silk Hope NC. It is a wild chance cross alba X rubra

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ramv, have you had illinois everbearing? How does it compare to the others you list? I see descriptions of Silk Hope liken it to Illinois everbearing.

I have a couple of nigra which are super slow growing and shy bearing, not in the best spot. And a Pakistan which fruited for the first time this summer and was great. I’ve only had a couple Illinois Everbearing and my recollection was that the texture and flavor wasn’t as good as Pakistan.

My Pakistan has some root suckers which I think I’ll graft to. I also have just planted a Wellington, since that what a member was selling, but have read mixed reviews about it.

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I dont have IE. But I have tasted plenty of those. I would rank IE below Pakistan.
Silk Hope is a superior variety. I got mine from @Bradybb. It has a more complex balanced tart/sweet compared with Pakistan which is mostly sweet but still excellent.
IE is also balanced tart/sweet but also has a slight background grassy note IMO. It is tasty and I would never turn it down. But in side by side with the others, it ranks a bit lower to my taste. Others may have different opinions.

My Nigra stalled out for years and eventually died. It was very tasty but hard to grow. I’m going to replace that one this year with some grafts.
I’ve heard Wellington is very good. I think Brady grows that one.

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Silk Hope has a contested cold hardiness that is super high compared to IE is the thing. Most claim IE to grow zone 4/5 and Silk Hope is said to be zones 6/7. Many compare Silk Hope to IE. I guess if you are a zone where you can grow Pakistan outside it is not a contention but if you are in my zone growing IE is a good deal.

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Yes, Pakistan has no problems here in zone 8B. But the white pakistan/green australian had serious die back last year. This year is also expected to be quite cold so I am expecting die back with white pakistan again.

I find Kokuso to be quite tasty.

Worlds Best, my experience mirrors yours.

I have IE, Kokuso, Beaufitul Day in the ground.

I have Gerardi, Pakistan and Black Beauty (nigra) and a (supposedly hardy) nigra that hasn’t fruited yet.

Black Beauty is #1, IE and Kokuso tie for #2 with some years one better than the other. Kokuso fruits are bigger.

Beaufiful Day fruits are strictly for dehydrating. They excel dehydrated and are one-noted (sweet) when fresh. Dehydrating also seems to eliminate any grassy-ness that white mulberries have.

I wish mulberries and blackberries fruited in the same season. The tartness of blackberries would be nice with the sweetness of mulberries…

Scott

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freeze them on wax paper lined sheet pans then dump in ziplocks. i do that with all my small fruit and then process over winter when things have slowed down.

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@Chills where did you get the Black Beauty and the hardy Moria Nigra? Is this last one supposed to be synonymous with an Italian or Persian Black mulberry?

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That sounds about right. I have had dieback on silk hope here in 6a. One though that is better than IE, and for me probably Silk Hope too, is Oscar. No dieback so far.

For fresh eating, I prefer mulberries hands-down to blackberries or any other cane-berry. But… in my experience, flavor dissipates with freezing… and I have numerous bags of frozen mulberries in the freezer that I’m very close to just throwing out.

IE is hard to beat for flavor; Popcorn Dz gets most of the first flush of fruits here, most years. Silk Hope is my fave… big, juicy, tasty fruits, long bearing time. I have a couple of presumed IE seedlings here that are comparable to - if not better than - IE. Lawson Dawson bears well here - and trees benefitting from horse/cow ‘fertilization’ are bigger, juicier, tastier than from the ‘unfertilized’ tree in the yard.

After 10-15 years, I finally ditched Kokuso… just not enough flavor or production to keep it.

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Try an ‘upside down cake’ using some of your frozen mulberries.
Pick your own recipie…if you’ve ever did some kind of upside down cake and liked it, then substitute mulberries and give it a try. You barely notice the stems.

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Black Beauty is from Burnt Ridge. I’ve had it for over a decade.

The hardy Morus Nigra is from Oikos Tree Crops. The proprietor is reputable and claims it survives his zone 5 climate. I’ve grown it in a pot 2 years (it was 4 inches or so when I got it and it is now almost 3 feet). I hope to fruit it next year and compare the fruit. It is not grafted. It is on its own roots.

I may also put it into the ground next spring… I’ll protect it the first couple years.

Scott

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@Chills This one? https://oikostreecrops.com/products/seeds-from-our-farm/recently-harvested-seeds/sweet-juice-black-mulberry-seeds-scions/