Morus nigra or not? Looking at the buds

As many know, it’s not easy to find a true Morus nigra at the trade. A lot of places sell black-fruited mulberries as M. nigra, which they are not. Even before you have a chance to see and taste the fruit, take a look at the buds. Morus species are named according to the color of their buds, not fruit. Nigra means black buds, alba means white buds (not truly white as a white paper, of course, they are pale beige to pale brown).

The twig on the photo below is of the variety named Sicilian Black (because it has black fruit), but it is a M. alba and it has white buds:

Here is another alba, a seedling with black fruit and white buds:

And here are alba (on the left) and nigra (on the right) side to side. The difference in bud color (and size) is unmistakable:


Thanks for the info!

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This picture is worth a thousand words!!! Thank you


well, heck.
i bought 3 grafted ‘M.nigra’ from Lucille Whitman several years ago…only the one labeled ‘Sicilian Black’ survived the first winter…and you’re telling me it’s an alba?!
I’ll try to get photos today…leaves and buds sure looked different, to me, from the typical trashy M.alba seedlings I’ve encountered

Well with size, considering the size of the alba stick, it actually has bigger buds to diameter ratio than the nigra. They look almost the same to me.

Left to right: Seedling M.alba(actually was purchased from TyTy as Black Giant (it’s not giant!) back around 1995), ‘Sicilian Black’ from Whitman Farms, M.rubra “Harmony Grove”, “Illinois Everbearing”


My ‘Sicilian Black’ is also from Whitman Farms. It’s an alba.

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Well, I got some nigra scions from a member here, gonna try grafting them onto seedling rootstock this spring.
I know M.nigra is not supposed to work here (in southern west-central KY), but my wife, who first turned me on to mulberries, was so taken by them on a trip to Spain that I’m determined to at least TRY growing them. If the humidity makes it a failed attempt… it won’t be my first failure.
Even death won’t be as disappointing as was everything I got from TyTy… back before I knew better than to order from them. lol

I finally got a chance to look at my plant. The buds look crispy, and they are not that big either. The seed was from a well known nigra tree in Bulgaria. the tree made the papers a few times. I could not get in the garage very well with plants all over, I could not focus correctly. Buds do appear dark but who knows?

Tsarigradska mulberry seedling from Vratsa Bulgaria zone 6 (morus nigra)

fruitnut had the best photos to see the buds well on nigra.

Here is Geraldi

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That does look like a nigra to me.

My nigras and their buds

. Chelsea/king james

. Unknown german nigra

. British nigra/AGM

. Nigra aalst

. Small italian nigra, possibly Regina

. Another italian nigra

And a gerardi dwarf that has very similar buds as nigras, short interstems

And this week i shall be receiving a big tree form Italian Regina Nigra, i"ll post photos of the buds also


I must add not all nigras buds are massive, some are quite small on the same tree but definitively very black in colour, people might mistaken them for albas when they are so small, but take a look to the small trees from the photos above 2 years ago when they were still in pots. Definitivily nigras, no doubt, i ve seen hundreds of them and can distinguish them quite easily. And they grow painfully sloooooow

Photos from them in pots 2 years ago


Wow do you have the mulberries! Nice collection! I’m in a cold zone and most of the hardy mulberries probably have rubra or other mulberry species crossed in. Although the buds are lighter, not by much.
I have some questions. Are your nigras grafted or on their own roots?
I have not grown them long and wondered about watering, it appears to me they tend to like it rather dry. They seemed to slow their growth with too much water. It could be something else, I need a few years growing them to learn more.

My nigra has already stopped growing for 2020. I doubt I could get it growing again. Maybe with lots of water and fertilizer. I do think next winter I’ll prune to try to get the fruiting wood higher off the ground. As it is now I’ll be laying down to pick the fruit. I’ll probably lose most of the crop for one yr trying to get the fruiting zone off the ground.

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I wish I had some extras to experiment on. Like maybe plant hormones? Not rooting hormone, something like Gibberellic Acid. Or one of the many other hormones out there like Brassinolide.

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Hello everybody! Few of my countrymen in Finland say that “they have grown Morus nigra from seeds, and it has grown outdoors well without protection”. In Finland. In addition a book that collects all the biggest trees in Finland claims that there is 5 m high Morus nigra. In Finland, outside.

Naturally I try to dance between the comments and to tell that maybe they are not nigra, just maybe…?

Anyway, I’d appreciate some essential telltales to identify nigra from alba hybrids during the summer time. I’ve seen some pictures here, but I dare not to copy them or link them to the people, copyright issues you know. If I can use your pictures, please let me know.

Can any of you who have Morus nigra for certain take some good summer pictures of the buds, leaves etc. ?
For example, how often nigra does lobed leaves during it’s youth/maturnity? And if grafted to M. alba, does the growth differ from when it is seedling?

I just want a handbook of Morus nigra , preferably a heavy one, to bash the heads of liars and nay-sayers :smiley:

Here are some pictures of true M.nigra. The buds in these pictures are not black yet because these are still young summer buds. As the wood and buds mature/lignify they will turn black.
The fruit has almost no fruit stalk! It is almost completely embedded in the fruit. This is the easiest way to distinguish M.nigra from all other mulberry species.
You can also see the juvenile leaves compared to adult leaves.
M. nigra will also very rarely form a straight trunk as it grows into a mature tree because the wood is so plyable and elastic that it can mostly not support its own weight as the tree grows in size, because of this the branches will bend to the ground or the tree will deform and take on a gnarled appearance.
You can also see some tipical M.nigra leaf spot disease in the pictures (Cercospora Moricola) this is the most common disease that affects M.nigra, especially under warm humid conditions. It is usually just an aesthetic problem but in some very bad cases it can cause the tree to shed all its leaves!
Untill shortly, M.nigra was even listed on the world list of invasive species. It appeared that they confused with black fruited M.alba… I wrote them a remark stating the confusion and pointed out that M.nigra is actually an endangered species and not an invasive species.