Two "species" of Morus nigra mulberry?


I recommend you to the ARS Davis website and start communicating with them directly.


Hi Drew51,
Morus nigra is not a hybrid, but rather, is a distinct species. It is said quite often that it is not found in the wild, at least according to the people at the British website,


OK, it must have been at one time. I have to look into origins of this one. I heard that some cultivars are polyploid examples, but that was done with chemicals, a common practice for breeders.


If you look at the list (with links) of the NCGR Morus accessions, you’ll find that several of the accessions were obtained by seed in the wild. In some instances if you dig deeply into the accession data you’ll find the GPS coordinates of collection, but I haven’t dug this far into the M. nigra data.

Google can’t find this website. sic?


Sorry…I was typing from memory (which is always a bad idea)…


Ok, works. Looking at their About page: I see they are environmentalists (not a bad thing), but do not have any horticulturists or biologists in their employ.


You are probably correct…but Barrie Juniper is supposed to be their genetics expert (according to James Coleman), but Barrie has not indicated to me any kind of official title.


In any case, M. nigra is found in the wild today. It grows streamside in portions of Pakistan, Afganistan, etc. and as a land race in other portions of the ancient Persian empire.


. Thanks for that even though I knew they had to be from the wild. Interesting species, wish it grew better here. Here one has to choose his battles wisely. Figs yes, M. nigra, no. I can grow berries with very unique flavor. Too much trouble to grow nigra. Figs are amazing and nobody told them they can’t grow here, they do anyway, and nothing close to a substitute.Plus the other species of mulberry do well here, and you know the taste is unique. Maybe if I inherit a few million, I’ll put up heated greenhouses and grow them. Along with every tropical fruit I can find.


imo, there’s still a chance nigras could be hybrids. While it is true that nigra’s could live >600 years, it does not necessarily rule out its predecessors(with shorter lifespans) to actually be even more ancient albas and/or macrouras or any other morus species. What am trying to say is that we’ve ascertained a mule to be a hybrid because we knew beforehand what its parents were. The parent existed before the mule hybrid was created. Even more interesting are that mules could outlive horses by >10 years and supposedly more intelligent than both parents.

unfortunately for plants, which took millions of years to evolve, we are all clueless. Unless phylogenetic/genome studies determine which is more ancient than which, anything is still possible.

per the website below, mulberry’s polyploidy, was a recent occurrence, “or new wave of occcurrence”, which imply that nigra’s are a more recent species than others with smaller numbers of chromosomes.
"Mulberry is rapidly evolving at the nucleotide level. It’s fast evolving genes may have contributed to the flexibility of mulberry to adapt to environments outside of its native range, facilitating its spread to Europe, Africa and the United States. In contrast to its rapid nucleotide changes, Rosales ploidies have evolved conservatively. Mulberry, strawberry, cannabis, papaya and grape underwent the most recent pan-eudicot hexaploidization. Widespread neopolyploidy in mulberry with up to 308 (44 × ) chromosomes22 and strawberry with up to 70, suggest an intriguing scenario that these lineages may be receptive to the benefits of a new wave of polyploidization."
since nigras have the most number of chromosomes of all mulbs, if not all in the plant kingdom, it is likely to be one of the youngest divergence from the moraceae family tree

and speaking of jigsaw epidermal cells and ‘possible nigra hybrid’ the link below shows Morus laevigata exhibiting similar growth patterns as shown on the following link. Could your leaf be just a laevigata or actually a nigra? Or a hybrid?


If you’d like to use accepted terminology, here’s some starting points:


so as not to belabor, some hybrids may ultimately be considered as species if they are mass produced(by nature) and perpetuated over a period of time. Calamondins could be considered a separate species thousands of years from now. If the jigsaw-nigra happens to be a hybrid and prove to be self-fertile and breed true, it could ultimately be considered a species a long time from now. Same with the permutations of apriums, pluots, etc., if they happen to be self-fertile

without genetic studies, we wouldn’t really know if nigras are hybrids(or not). Still possible that we’ve labeled it as a species simply because it has been around way before our own species started gathering information about it.

and speaking of the so-called human ‘species’ or ‘subspecies’ , some of us might actually be neanderthal x homo sapien hybrids as well… Only reason we don’t belabor it is because neanderthal traits/genes/alleles have admixed into Homo sapiens’ DNA over thousands of years that many of us now refuse to consider ourselves hybrids even though some of us have neanderthal traits.

just because we’ve ‘grandfathered’ it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It just so happened that it was way before our time.


As often occurs in our conversations, the focus is drifting away from your original conjecture:

In particular, what species of these Genera do you propose M. nigra is a hybrid of?


look who’s talking?

anything more ancient than nigra species, since nigra’s extreme polyploidy is reportedly a “recent occurrence”.
thus said, pretty much any other morus from the old world, perhaps an ancient alba or laevigata cross with serrata or any other mulb within the vicinity/trade routes.
If an alba actually produced illinois ever-bearing ‘hybrid’ with the new world rubra(across the pond), then more likely that the ancient albas, notabilis, etc of the old world would have more feasible permutations–which is actually the case.


Which species of the genera listed here are candidates for your hypothesis?


Oh yeah…I have seen this article before…but I didn’t notice the abaxial cell pattern of the Morus laevigata as being slightly similar to the “Dwarf Everbearing”. This is the paper I mentioned before that shows virtually no difference in stomatal complex size between Morus able and Morus nigra, and showing shorter trichomes on Morus nigra than Morus alba. Morus nigra has vastly larger trichomes as well as stomatal complexes. It really shows the need for genetic testing to sort out all this misidentification of mulberries.


Yes, I read those articles too From National Geographic


Yes, I agree completely. The cost and size of automated sequencers has come down dramatically in the last few years. There is probably one at a University near you. Another option is the growing number of bio-tech locations that perform this as fee for service.


pretty cool right? And 20% neanderthal is a huge chunk, almost like an aprium or a pluot! We are a species and a hybrid at the same time.

yeah, seems to be the only option left for babe ruth in 3rd base!


Yes, although were are name like a hybrid. Well we are a sub-species. Homo sapiens sapiens so one can distinguish from earlier types or other types such as Homo sapiens cromagnon.

The more diverse genetic material the better! One never knows what gene could save the human race. Sickle Cell Anemia is a DNA mutation that causes the beta chain of the hemoglobin molecule to have an improper sequence of amino acids. This changes the stereo chemistry of hemoglobin which causes red blood cells to sickle. The gene is recessive. Having one gene results in anemia in some to asymptomatic in others. Malaria is the number one killer of humans, If you have one gene, your blood cells will sickle and be removed if the parasite infects your red blood cells. People with sickle cell trait cannot get malaria, a huge advantage in infested areas. So you never know what gene will save the world. Even bad ones, may surprise us one day.