Two "species" of Morus nigra mulberry?


Hi, I’m chriso zone 10b. And yes I’ve been trying to grow Morus nigra mulberries for the longest time. My first challenge was finding my way through the confusing maze of terminology of species and cultivars. When I finally came to the conclusion that indeed, it is M. nigra I was looking for, my first impulse (and the cheapest) was to buy seeds from Tradewinds. The few seeds I received never germinated. It could be the fact that I needed to stratify them and I didn’t. Since then, I obtained seeds of M. nigra from Lebanon. These germinated. A first batch of 20 seedlings did not survive past the fifth year. A second batch of 20 is down to 10 going into their third year and seemingly doing well. This is the source of the leaf sent to Livinginawe. My question to this forum is if anyone else has grown M. nigra seedlings, if they made it to maturity, and if they have fruited. Also, those nigra growers, do you get seeds in your mulberries? Any fallen ripe mulberries should be full seeds. Can you try to grow them as an experiment say after 2-3 months of stratification in the refrigerator? M. nigra is deserving of our efforts. Every suitable backyard should have a tree for the sake of our children and their love of getting their clothes dirty…


Some cultivars of M. nigra available here in the U.S. are seedless when not in the presence of a suitable pollinator.


Chriso, very helpful input from you. I hope your last batch seedlings reach maturity soon. And I do hope to see both gender among them, that would settle the “where do those black mulberries come from if their seeds are sterile” question. Even if they turns out all female, there are still theoretical possibility that some flower buds on a female black mulberry tree can switch gender due to some condition change, thus provide the pollinator.


No plans yet for genetic testing of Wolfskill mulberry cultivars, but I’ve emailed Dr. Aradhya (USDA ARS geneticist at Davis) about having some samples included if and when they do.
I realize there is little to be accomplished by trying to rush the genetics testing on mulberries, as the science is rapidly maturing…and most likely in ten years or less getting a plant specimen sequenced will be a matter of a postage stamp and a few dollars. UC Davis College of Biological Sciences DNA Sequencing Facility offers $7.33 (segmented) sequencing NOW…but that is just the sequencing part…you have to provide them with purified “amplified” DNA material (a lot of prep work). Plus, a PLOS editor who I have a lot of respect for, has stated that the mulberry sequencing papers that she has examined were woefully inadequate. So I have to conclude that until a respectable lab undertakes a serious study not much can be accomplished by getting some samples sequenced.


I want to post picture of my nigra seedlings for those that doubt nigra seeds are viable. Why I am sure it is nigra? Because the leafs of mother tree are rough, not glossy, seeds are double size, the twigs are thick and fruits ripen late.


Looks like you have too many! I can help you out there! :innocent:
Those kinda look like cuttings to me. Too woody looking. But what do I know?


The leaves do not look like any M. nigra I’ve ever seen.


Hi pileta…I would love a leaf for microscopic examination: First to see whether your leaf’s abaxial cell pattern is the same as Chriso’s; and second, to confirm Morus nigra (based on cell nucleus size). All I need is one leaf placed between moistened paper towel in a ziplock and mailed in an envelope. Please let me know if you’ll consider it.


They start their second year and have a woody stem, yes.
I kept them inside for winter and they began leafing earlier.

The leaves are too small at the moment (about 2-3 cm/one inch). If You can wait, I think mature leaves will be more suitable for examination. Just remind me.

The beginning - April ’ 2016:

A Month and a half later:


your study is very intriguing. Btw, are you based in europe/mediterranean region?


Yes, I am from Northwest Bulgaria (EU). The most interesting is that this big tree is unique in our region (too cold). Other nigra trees grow only in southern Bulgaria or near Black sea. Many people have made attempts to propagate this variety with no success, including specialists from the local Sericulture and Agriculture Experiment Station.
Here is two links (in bulgarian). You can use Google translate.–godishnata-chernica-vyv-vraca-e-jiva


Neat story. Surely someone out there has propagated it.



thanks so much for posting. I am even more intrigued now! Your region probably has plenty of male nigra trees, and if not, then it is a good sign that nigras can be receptive to pollen of other morus species.
incidentally-- you report that the seedlings actually fruited. How old were they when they started doing so? Truly amazing that a nigra seedling which is quite capable of being productive for several centuries-- that it could also be fruitful at a very young age, considering that it is the exact scenario with most coventional drupes and pomes.

last but not least, were the berries similar in quality to typical nigra berries?


Ditto. According to documents from Britain, seedling nigras usually take more than 7 years to reach maturity. And the fastest white mulberry seedling that I have seen fruited in the 3rd year.


here in vegas, a mature nigra stem grafted onto alba seedling will produce berries earlier than 2 years, but the berries tend to get aborted at the red stage for three or more years.
conversely, quite curious if a nigra seedling stem grafted onto a mature/old(and at its prime) alba or nigra would be more precocious

if the nigra seedlings had alba parentage, that may explain the precocity reported by @pileta
the ‘old world’ has some of the oldest mulb trees, and being a great continuum of land from portugal all the way to china/korea and long history of agri-trade via silk route , it probably facilitated what @pileta is reporting now in bulgaria! And is main reason why was so curious about @pileta 's whereabouts…
here in north america, we seem to only have rubra as endemic species , and only relatively-recently imported nigras and albas


In my opinion, your seedlings are not M. nigra.

Compare with this NCGR accession:

Both the Moraceae family and the Morus genus are traceable back to Pangaea.


In my opinion when he mentioned the fruits he was referring to the motherplant.

Stem and buds sure look like nigra. The leafs resemble them too. We have to take into consideration that he is showing seedlings. Leafs of the mature trees might look different.


I did not say that.
I’m sorry if I misled You without wanting to. My english is far from exactness.
In brief: There is only one big fruiting morus nigra tree (about 120 years old) in my region. Neither femail nor male morus nigra tree occur here except this one. In 2015 I collect seeds from dropped fruits under this tree. After stratification some of them sprout in spring 2016 and I saw them in pots. In my first post I show these seedlings at present time. I didn’t expect them to start fruiting In the coming years :cry:. Maybe some of them are male. As I think crossing nigra with alba is impossible. Probably this nigra tree is self-fruitful at some degree.

Unfortunately I have not tasted nigra fruits yet.

I’m unable to find pictures there. Can You explain why You think my seedlings are not nigra?

@carrot: Thanks for mention buds.
Here is the close look of buds:


They look like nigra to me.