Eastern US Black Mulberry sighting

Yes…my humble apologies to anyone if I appear in the slightest as condescending. My enthusiasm with mulberries clouds my judgement, thinking everyone is as obsessed with mulberries as I. This forum is incredibly unique, in that negative elements are pretty much non-existent in this forum…I certainly don’t want to initiate negativity.


In my experience, you have a few days of grace before the next squirrel invades that territory. Squirrels do love peaches, probably more than any other fruit and a ripe peach is like crack to them. I don’t even try waiting for the peaches to full ripen on the tree into their mouth-watering splendor, but pick them as soon as I notice squirrels trying to breach my netting security system. I truly envy those lucky gardening enthusiasts that have property in open plains, distant enough from trees that harbor squirrels and raccoons (I guess you would still get deer though) that are able to freely enjoy the “fruits” of their labor.


posting pictures here should help. Albas and rubras can be difficult to tell apart, and sometimes not possible, but nigra’s have subtle but unique characteristics which isolate them from the rest.


Great idea!! Anyone spots a mulberry tree with black mulberries, take a picture of the tree (close-ups of leaves, fruit and buds preferred), and this forum will chime in as to whether or not it is indeed a Morus nigra black mulberry tree. Black mulberry fruits have no stems to speak of, and it is impossible to pick the fruit without it bleeding all over your fingers.


As the full time defender of fruit in about 100 orchards in gray squirrel country, I am well experienced with this species of vermin. Their behavior varies from site to site, year to year in many ways. You are right that they are reluctant to travel through meadow to reach fruit trees, although when they are starving, they will leave their comfort zone. Nets here are only useful when pressure is relatively low- sometimes they don’t take much time to “breach” nets and will go through them and remove every fruit from a tree in less than a day.

Populations boom and crash and after 3 years that they crashed in my region they are booming again. I prefer using baffles to nets which I make with roofing coil stapled to trunks that are trained straight and branchless for the first 4-5’- solid cylinders about 2.5’ long. However, at one site, a squirrel jumped 5’ this year from the ground and they have defeated my greased baffles at a couple other sites (in this case, trees that are also netted with strong woven netting) by removing enough grease-oil mixture to get traction then tearing through nets. 5’X5" sections of duct pipe or roofing coil constructed from the ground up with that diameter is working at these difficult sites- so far. They can climb narrower cylinders more easily.

So far, on my own property, where nursery trees are too close to orchard trees to make baffling possible, I have been able to harvest most of my fruit by continuous extermination- mostly live-trap and kill. Any day now they should turn their focus to acorns and I look forward to it. I fear they may even be worse next year because it looks like there is a good acorn crop. Probably there won’t be many next year and they will be taking fruit through fall.

I think the best solution would be to surround orchards with electric fencing constructed to stop squirrel, deer, coon and possum. Of course you might still have to net out the birds. It’s funny how none of my rich customers opt for the electric fence option, even when they use electric to help keep their horses in bounds. Usually there is so much dew in the morning here that if a squirrel hits a wire it can be a lethal deterrent.


Wow…You must stay mighty busy. I, too, have been amazed at what obstacle a squirrel can defeat. As you stated, grease cylinders work for a while, but they keep at it until they strip all the grease.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pruned back trees encroaching on my fruit trees, believing that surely the gap is far too wide for them to jump…only to discovered that they just laugh at my futility. They are just way smarter than me and I have become their bitch.
Yeah, I agree, an electric fence would be the way to go…But as others have stated, you must get a powerful fence charger. I watched this old opossum on my security camera learning to just take the shock of my low power fence charger to get to my persimmons. When is someone going to invent an electronic bobcat!!!


we could open up a thread titled “mulberry mugshots”, where people can line 'em up and post photos at different angles. Then nigra aficionados like us may gladly sieve the impostors from the real mccoys. :slightly_smiling_face:


Hunger is a huge motivation, it seems. This year they are jumping further- but they are also easier to trap.

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Yes indeed; we can have some cold winters. In our little town; a mulberry tree is like a mother cat; the gift that keeps giving! We have them coming up all over the yard… I’m even digging some up and planting them on our 1/2 acre cabin on Northern Mn.- zone 3. Will keep you posted on if any of them take.


Are you saying a woven wire electric fence will keep squirrels out? I am glad to learn that.

I’ve not used woven, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t work. You have to ground some 1" chicken wire by burrying it a bit and connecting it to a grounding rod and space the wire close enough so the squirrel can’t get in without touching both at the same time. An elderly Italian fruit lover told me he accomplished it for years with a single strand well above the ground, but I’d use at least 3. I once made electric boxes for individual trees and it worked but took too much time to assemble. I used a constant charger that plugs in instead of solar- the solar electric pulse units take too long between pulses- over a second. You can plug in the unit I’m talking about and then run gray electric wire from its charge quite a distance right along the ground and run a mower over it. It disappears but doesn’t contain a high enough charge to be dangerous although it may not be legal.

Thanks Alan! That is good information…

I was told by someone that a lot of different kinds of mulberries have naturally hybridized together, I am going to get cuttings of a mulberry tree that has survived minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, if my memory is right then it’s probably a Morus alba with black colored berries. I’d like to see it hybridized with better tasting mulberries to make them more cold hardy. Of course Morus nigra is one that would be a great choice for a hybrid partner plant.

PS: I was reading online recently and I got the impression that there are two different varieties of mulberries properly called black mulberry.

I feel pretty confident in asserting that there are not true black mulberries - M.nigra - growing/self-seeding around the eastern U.S. I have one here in KY - but… full disclosure… I bought 3 from Lucille Whitman a couple of years back and ‘Sicilian Black’ is the only one that survived the first winter.
Dr. AJ Bullard, the long-time NAFEX Southern Mulberry Interest Group chairman, gave up on trying to grow M.nigra here in the Southeast years ago… the humidity and prevalence of fungal pathogens appears to be a bigger issue than winter-hardiness.

M.rubra is still pretty common here once you get out in the country; in town, weedy M.alba is everywhere in every untended fenceline, ditchbank, vacant lot. M.albaXrubra hybrids are common… I have at least one very good local selection, ‘Lawson Dawson’, that is a hybrid, and a couple of chance seedlings that came up around the farmstead that I moved to provide shade to the corral, that are better (here) than some of the named varieties I have growing (like… Wellington).

Just because the tree produced dark purple to black fruits… it’s not necessarily black mulberry (M.nigra).


Just because the tree produced dark purple to black fruits… it’s not necessarily black mulberry (M.nigra).

 Totally agree with that statement. All "Black mulberry" trees (Morus nigra) produce black fruit, but not all black mulberries are the product of Black mulberry Morus nigra trees...Black mulberry fruits can be produced by white and red mulberries and the many hybrids thereof. All very confusing, I know. We could lump all mulberries into a single family and go by variety names like in apples or pears were it not for real genetic chromosomal differences between them. @livinginawe has created a very comprehensive and helpful website, totally worth visiting...check it out
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I think @strudeldog holds the record so far of the longest lived Black Mulberry in the southeast. He kept one alive for five years in Georgia. Miami resident @Chriso is determined to beat his record, I believe…Coming from Lebanon, where they grow well, he is a true Morus nigra addict. My Gainesville, Florida ‘Persian’ Morus nigra was planted two years ago and is doing well (over ten feet tall) but I’ve kept it sprayed with fungicide whenever the temperature is over 85 degrees F (Not something I plan to do indefinitely), and I feed it about every month. I see you have an interest in low tannin acorns…A neighbor that moved recently to Belize claimed he had found one down by Tampa? Florida that was sweet and you could eat without treatment.

I have a six foot rake leaning on the tree for size comparison.


And you did mention that your tree has fruited before. Any fruits this year?

I’ve slowed down some on the oaks… but still interested in good ones when someone picks them - whether for low tannin, acorn size, productivity, or other features (growth habit, leaf morphology/color, etc.). Grafted less than a dozen this spring.
IMO, tannin levels can vary from sweet/non-bitter to typical bitterness from year to year - from the same tree - based on growing conditions. For example, Q.bicolor “Cobb Sweetie #2” was totally non bitter in the 2001 crop year, but 2002 acorns were indistinguishable from any other SWO acorn.
So… if there’s more info on this particular oak… and the possibility of getting scionwood from it… I’m interested…

It fruited last year, but didn’t fruit this year. I attributed (perhaps falsely) no fruits to an abundance of nutrients and rain…It just wanted to grow!

Sorry…My wife has issues with him and now that he has moved away I would rather not contact him. But if you wish to contact him, his name is Robert Novack, he is an acupuncturist in Belize…Probably easiest through Facebook. But he gave me the impression that his encounter with this particular oak was in the distant past, maybe thirty years or so.