Morus nigra (black mulberry) from seed

I just pulled the trigger on 5 grams of M. nigra seed (alleged?) from Sheffield’s, which they estimate is ~2500 seeds. Here’s the info about this batch of seeds:

I’m thinking I’ll plant a dozen or two of the healthiest seedlings along my northern fenceline, spaced closely to form a hedge eventually. I’ll probably give a bunch of extra seedlings away at the local Little Free Plant Library, but I’m sure I’ll have a ridiculous amount of seed left over to share if anyone is interested. It’s from 2020, I’m not sure how long it lasts, but that’s part of why I ordered so much extra.

Here are the germination instructions from the seed seller:

  • Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours, repeat process daily for 4 days.
  • Stratification: cold stratify for 90 days.
  • Germination: surface sow and keep moist, tamp the soil, keep moist, mulch the seed bed, can be sown outdoors in the fall for spring germination.

I’ll update once the seeds arrive and again when they start to germinate, but I’m curious if anyone else has experience and any advice to give.


Hi Winn,
I have been trying to germinate Morus Alba seed, it’s too early to tell if they will actually germinate. I went thru the 90 day after soaking stratification instructions. Sowed my first batch of about 15 seeds about 3 weeks ago. So far I see nothing emerging. So time will tell. Let me know how yours do.
Kent, wa

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I think @Drew51 started some M. Nigra seeds.

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Good luck; For your information, the picture with mulberries in the plate are not M. nigra.


Agree with pictures not being Morus nigra. The leaf is too glossy. The fruits have long stems. These are most likely black fruited albas.


Except for the third image: correct, but taken from Wikipedia


I believe they used stock images, so it’s not surprising if they are wrong. Hopefully the seed source is still correct! I don’t really know anything about what mulberries are grown in Hungary typically?

And how old does a seedling need to get before it can be identified by bud color? Hopefully the first dormant season?

Even if they are not the variety you hope for, you can still graft the seedling. BTW these seeds are very much larger than the ones I received which are barely visible about size of a grain of sand. I would take a few seeds if you have excess.

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If you click on each photo, they have photo credits and are all taken from Wikipedia except the photo of the seeds with the scale, that’s from the seed company themselves. So if seed size is any indicator (is it?) then that’s promising.

I’ll have plenty of extra seed, so glad to share.

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I went down a bit of a rabbit hole here, but it seems that in general M. nigra seeds are larger than alba, but the latter show some variation in size. Here’s a photo comparing seeds, from this post on the Growing Mulberry website (thanks @Livinginawe for the great website!):


I’ve emailed Sheffield’s to ask what methods they used to confirm the species, and will update here when they respond or when the seeds arrive (I’ll take some photos then).


Tim at Sheffield’s responded to my email, and assured me that they are well aware of the problem of black-fruited Morus alba being mislabeled as nigra, and they were very careful to correctly identify their source of these seeds in Hungary, which he’s confident is accurate.

Sounds promising, I’ll do some seed measuring when they arrive and post photos here.


Yes, my plant will be 6th leaf now. Has yet to fruit. Seeds sprouted right away. No stratification was done to the seeds.
2 of 3 germinated, one never thrived, stayed small and I think is dead now? I still have it. It looked like it died last season, but kept it to see if it will green up this year. The other turned into a beautiful tree.

I don’t have a current photo

Plant is stored in the garage in winter where temps remain above 20F, with my figs
I often put snow on them to keep them moist.

Photo from 11-19-2019
Although I just did this again the other day. While I can!! I’m having surgery tomorrow and need 6 weeks to recover. So I won’t be replying back anytime soon.
I find nigra seeds easy to grow, good luck with them! Keep trying I failed so many times with seeds, just keep trying!
I now also have fruiting peach trees from seed. Last year was the first year they fruited, and the squirrels got every single one! It’s always something. I was so excited to try them, well I will cage the darn things this year!! Mom is Indian Free, dad is unknown. Indian Free is not self fertile so for sure are crosses. On the same tree is Artic Jay and Fantasia nectarines. Likely one of them. The tree also has a number of pluots. Each scaffold and some secondary scaffolds are different cultivars. Counting the mother tree this tree has 6 cultivars. Peach trees are hard to graft to, but Indian Free seems to be an exception.


Best of luck with that and a speedy recovery! I had neck surgery a couple years ago, it was hard to make myself take it easy as long as they said, but I’m glad I did now that I’m healed up. Don’t push yourself too soon!


Seeds came today, I’ll try to repackage and send some to the people who requested them on Monday. In terms of size, they look like they are mostly around 3mm across, which would be very large (but not impossible) for alba according to the @Livinginawe webpage I linked above, and the correct size to be nigra. Here’s what that page says:

Morus nigra seeds are 3 to 4 mm in length; compared to Morus alba, Morus rubra and Morus macroura, which range from 1.5 to 2.5 mm in length.

Here is a photo of the seeds I just received:


When I was changing the water for my first batch (30ish seeds) for the second time, I noticed a couple seeds with fuzz that looked like rot. I squeezed those two seeds, and they were soft, so I tossed them. I rinsed and gently squeezed the rest, which seemed swollen a bit, but firm.

Went ahead and sowed them into a 1 gal community pot on a heating pad under a humidity dome (takeout lid):

If this test batch germinates ok without cold stratification, I’ll do a whole flat of them next, with 2-3 seeds per cell. If not, I’ll stratify a test batch next.


First two popped today:

(unless they are some kind of weeds that got into the potting mix, which was not sterilized)


Morus nigra is no problem to propagate from seed. It will readily germinate from dried seed as well as from fresh seed. The only problem is keeping the seedlings alive… Most often the seedlings will really struggle to stay alive and wither after a few years. I presume this has to do with high ploidity…
I have managed to keep one seedling alive for more than 25 years and every year it looks as if it is going to die, despite all the TLC it gets…it still hasn’t flowered/fruited…
This is the reason why Morus nigra seedlings in the wild are non existent and this is why I, and many others, are convinced that Morus nigra is actually just one clone that has survived over thousands of years through self cloning or man induced cloning. You can compare it with bamboo…one clone is pread all over the world through human manipulation.


I could not agree more with everything in your observations. I grew a total of 40 seedlings over the course of 15 years to a respectable height of 5-6 feet only to see them wither and die. Everyone of them. I do not think M. nigras are able to make durable roots. The only way around that is to grow them enough to be able to graft them onto M. albas whiich have much stronger root systems. Alas I wasn’t able to achieve that…yet. Maybe when I retire…


Well that doesn’t sound very encouraging! Where are you located? I wonder if soil biome also plays a role. In other words, whether the weak roots lead to root pathogens eventually in certain soil types.

I do have a few Russian alba seedlings in the ground already, perhaps I’ll try grafting any seedlings that get large enough to take budwood.

Also, since I have thousands of seeds, I’ll probably just keep germinating them batch after batch and planting out the strongest looking ones. Maybe some small percentage will prove stronger than usual?


They can, because in Spain all old nigras are own root. I have seen a big old tree that was prunned hard and it was suckering from the roots, all clearly nigra growth.

I have read that grafted specimens can last for a while, but are not as long lived as own root.

I guess that many seedlings are not vigorous, but the ones that are become vegetatively propagated to become new clones.