One of my favorite things to do is to graze on berries when I go for walks. In my urban neighborhood, most of what’s available are feral Morus alba and possible hybrid mulberries. Most of these are watery and insipid, some of them are grassy tasting or have other “off” flavors. But, I have found a handful that I think might be worth propagating. Only two so far, but that’s a higher percentage than I would think. Now, I don’t have any named variety mulberries yet to compare, but I do know that my two “good” mulberries taste as least as good as better-than-average blackberries, so that’s worth something.
All this has me thinking about where to look for new, hardy mulberry varieties. I think the answer might be in our northern cities. Mulberries seem to thrive in urban areas, especially the less well kept neighborhoods and in the lot lines along apartment parking. A walk around a “bad” neighborhood in the summer might yield a dozen fruiting trees that are easily accessible. If the ratios I’ve experienced hold, you would have a decent chance of finding a mulberry with tasty fruit. Searching in our northern cities would increase the chances of finding good new varieties that might make it in zone 4 or 5.
My two that I really like I named Lock St and Courtland after the streets I found them on. Lock St (which I also like to call “World’s Okay-est mulberry”) has fruit the size of a small-medium blackberry, and has a good sweet-tart balance, reminiscent of a pretty good blackberry. It fruits from late June to Late August/Early September here in New Hampshire, peaking in July. Courtland has slightly larger, much tastier fruits (like a very good blackberry), and fruits from mid June to mid July. It’s much less productive than Lock St, but so very tasty.
Has anyone else prospected for mulberries in an urban wonderland?
Here’s a picture of Lock St’s spurry branches, getting ready for another year of tasty fruit.