Morus Nigra advice wanted!

Hi folks,
I am thinking about adding Morus Nigra to my collection after hearing from several people that it was the best tasting fruit of all! That is high praise.
The good news is that they apparently do very well in my climate ripening in late July -August for about 5 weeks.

I have many questions, I hope someone can answer.

What is the difference between Persian, Noir de Spain and Black Beauty? I heard Black Beauty is a bit smaller and that would be an advantage. Is there any other difference? Fruiting characteristics, size, harvest season, productivity etc?

I’ve heard conflicting reports about size. Some people claim it is extremely slow growing, growing inches each year. But multiple local nurseries have trees (Persian and Black Beauty) that are 6-8 feet tall with 1.5 thick central leaders. They also sell them in bush form. They also warned me that these grow extremely fast and I have to keep them pruned or they will get out of hand.
Can I keep it small? i.e. under 6-8 feet.

One of the nurseries sells a “white” or albino Morus Nigra. Anyone know anything about this?
Is the root system very aggressive? I heard that they can break into pipes etc. I definitely dont want that. Is there a solution to this? Can pruning handle it?

Look forward to your expert advice.

Personally, I’d be wary of a nursery that told me they were extremely fast growers and probably not buy from them.
The first Black Beauty I had put on about 6-8 inches a year and the one now is about the same.
But,the Alba/Rubra ones I have,like Pakistan and Wellington can have over two feet a year.
Just about any plant can be kept relatively small by pruning. Brady

The nurseries I spoke to are Burntridge and One Green World. Are these not reputable?
OGW says they have multiple Nigra varieties that are bare root and around 8 feet tall with 1.5” caliper. They advertise this on their website. Could the rootstock be enabling this fast growth?

When it is on its own roots.

Yes. It’s probably on Morus alba and probably propagated by L.E. Cooke.

No such thing. Just some grower trying to cash in on the M. nigra craze.

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Thanks Richard for the growth clarification.

Morus Nigra “Alba”

If it’s a mulberry they call it nigra. This has frustrated me forever. A good number of the varieties are just rubra x alba discovered in the woods or park that was unique and cuttings were collected. Then much of the rest are alba cultivars. Then macroura and a few other species. True nigra is so uncommon in the states because of climate. Nigra grows slow and lives long. I just had to turn down a bunch of nigra from Europe because I live in the southeast. That stung so bad.

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Just because it’s from Persia doesn’t mean it’s M. nigra. The white-fruiting Morus were brought to central and west Asia from China a few 1,000 years ago.

I did get a true M. nigra from Burnt Ridge last year. They sell Black Beauty that is a true nigra.

Do they graft them? Just curious.

Most varieties are grafted. Some can be purchased either way. Most of the bush type are not. The nigras are.

It is on M. alba rootstock.

Yes. Theirs is from L.E. Cooke. However there are other sellers of “Black Beauty” that is simply M. rubra.

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Good to know. I have only grown them from cuttings so I never knew.

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I’m considering grafting one of your cuttings to one of my alba rootstock just for grins…

Give it a 16’ x 16’ area. In 2-3 years, expect 20’ height and 4" caliper trunk at the base.

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They do amazing on their own but I am interested to see what it does. Grown mulberries all my life but never grafted until the other day. Grafted an alba to Florida giant.

Is LE Cooke lying that it is a true Nigra?

well, it is likely because many nurseries use fast-growing albas, and then graft them with nigras at 4-5 feet level, appearing like tree-roses, so the height is mainly due to the alba ‘stilts’ they are on… I just bought several nigras of this sort and will post pix when get a chance this weekend.

fast-growth in nigras also don’t equate to seasoned wood. Seasoned nigra wood is what bears berries to maturity. Nigras grown under shade and with good irrigation will try searching for sunshine by developing stems with long internodes. With nigras, long internodes equate to puny buds(relative to girth of stems), and this is no bueno. Seasoned nigra wood will have short internodes and fat buds relative to caliper of stem. Fat nigra buds are the most promising buds. Even more promising is if the buds are actually thicker than the stems that bear them. Will post pics of this as well.

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forgot to add, we have all three and they all seem to be the same in laggard growth, fruit quality/taste(all excellent). Black beauty ‘being smaller’ is primarily because grafted low. If you graft noir or persian low , the growth will be just as dwarfish. Noir sometimes makes itself look different from b. beauty and persian by growing lobed leaves/fig-like foliage. My sentiments are the same with @Bradybb – about nigras being slow-growing.

and as i mentioned earlier, slow-growing due to the extremely short internodes when grown in full-sun. Full sun is what dwarfs nigras, and full sun is also what seasons nigra stems/buds the fastest.

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@jujubemulberry, This is very helpful. So clearly the Nigra is slow growing. I guess with a longer rootstock, it gets more vigorous.

I would much prefer a short slow growing tree as long as the productivity isn’t impacted badly. They sell those low grafted trees as well and that will be my choice.

How long did these take for them to start producing fruit? Not in large quantities but just enough to taste?

unfortunately, that does not seem to be influential. The length of rootstock does not seem to have any effect on growth, and if it does , i’d say the shorter the rootstock, the more sturdy the constitution, but not much more than that. Rootstock caliper is probably more influential than rootstock length. The thicker, the better.

here in vegas, i think it took longer than three years before our bare-root nigras fruited to maturity. From my recollection, recently planted bare-root nigras will try to bear berries, but will all succumb to yellowing or fruit-drop on first year. On second year, may reach red stage, but will end up dropped before any tinge of purple. On third year, may reach purple, but most will be sour, until finally, the berries improve to nigra-perfection years thereafter

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