Two "species" of Morus nigra mulberry?


Well, Tradewinds was my eighth attempt at purchasing Morus nigra seeds online. I still am determined to find a reliable source…but I am running out of options. Realizing there are few male Morus nigra pollinators to produce viable seeds here in the US, I’ve mainly focused my attention overseas to Great Britain, Spain, Turkey, and India…all to no avail. I have no doubt that Tradewinds is a good company though, they have just been duped like everyone else.


That’s too bad, wow, unreal.


Some fresh pictures from Bulgarian Morus Nigra. The small leaves are from two seedlings from that mother tree.


Beautiful pics! The extreme difference in appearance between the two seedling leafs are amazing! Your seeds are huge…4 mm…there is no denying of nigra appearance.


Continuing with the theme of the possibility of two or more highly polyploidy distinct species that have been lumped all together in one species category called Morus nigra:

“Pileta” sent me the three leaves pictured in the previous post; two small leaves from small seedling plants he had grown from seeds, and a large “mature” leaf from the “mother” tree (the tree that the seeds came from). All the leaves displayed large 15 um plus nuclei typical of Morus nigra. I did not observe any real differences microscopically between the two small leaves, even though they appear very different. These samples from Bulgaria appear identical to the seedling leaves I received from “Chriso”, who said they were grown from Lebanon seeds.

Now some might say that the absense of a “jigsaw puzzle” cell pattern in the three cultivars of “American Morus nigra” is just a “cultivar” difference…perhaps… but generally it is very difficult for a highly polyploidy species to display much variation, and I feel such a difference in cell pattern to be a major difference.


my undergrad thesis(a million years ago :grin:) was about heterophylly-- the 5000$ term for leaf morphology variations within the same species. Did the same thing you are now doing on mulbs, but was delving on tropical ornamental water lilies. Epidermal cells varied in form with age, and looking back, may also have variations influenced by amount of sunlight/heat leaves are getting, and may have also been due to whether or not the leaves were sticking out too much/partially drying out, or often submerged due to crowding.

with terrestrials, large leaves often indicate shady conditions. I have seen it on one of our nigras bought recently(from a nursery with crowded and shaded conditions), which now have grown smaller and stiffer leaves after a couple months out in the open in our oven-hot summers.

of course, just an input from my little experiment and from observing trees, and might not even apply to your studies if nigra’s actually occur in various sub-species or cultivars.


At least now I know the correct term for what I am studying.
I realize it is quite a leap for me, based on my limited findings, to deduce the existence of more than one highly polyploidy species that could be mistaken as one species, but on the other side of the coin, it would also be ridiculous to claim there is only one…I’m just intrigued at the possibility of finding a mulberry with Morus nigra fruit quality that will prosper well in the southeast.
I am also intrigued with my latest find. As you know, I have been in pursuit of finding real Morus nigra seeds that others could order and grow. To date, I have bought eleven orders of seeds that seemed promising on Ebay and over the internet…mainly concentrating my efforts on foreign suppliers in countries that Morus nigras are found. All except one had small nuclei. This one from Greece is especially interesting. First of all, the seeds sprouted in six days (I have never had mulberry seeds sprout in less than two weeks). When I examined a seedling root it showed large nuclei consistent of Morus nigra. Now it is not uncommon for mulberry to have some polyploid nuclei, especially in the root cells, but ALL the nuclei in the roots were of Morus nigra size. But, two weeks later, I examined the first true leaves and was surprised to find a totally different story. These nuclei are Morus alba size (~ 6 um) and the cells are multinucleated. I have observed “binucleated” cells often in albas and rubras, but never more than two nuclei per cell.
I will examine the leaves in a few more weeks to see if there is any consolidation of nuclei into one large nuclei, or anything of that nature. The seeds were a little larger than alba/rubra seeds, but not the size of true nigra seeds. The person selling the seeds insists that they are Morus nigra and claims that the photos of the plant that the seeds came from are his photos (although I have seen these photos on other sites). The photos have some Morus nigra characteristics (What do you think?) Seeing that these seedlings also share the “jigsaw puzzle” cells, if it turns out that they grow up without turning into typical Morus nigras (nucleus size and all), I wonder if this may be the mulberry species that derived Morus nigra…Just a thought.

I need to edit this image (remove the “Morus nigra” title) because now I don’t know what to call itNote the multinuceated cells.Morus nigra??? No (see below)
It appears that only the seedling root tips have large 15 um nuclei typical of Morus nigra…the leaves produced from these seedlings did not have large nuclei. I was not aware at the time that endopolyploidy is common in mulberry root tips. The seedlings from Greece are very intriguing though…The leaves have a majority of cells that are multinucleate, with some cells having as many as six nuclei. I frequently see cells that are binucleate in several cultivars of mulberry but never six nuclei. I am growing several of these plants to see what they become.


Thank you for all your help! Please consider selling nigra seeds on Ebay. There are dozens of people selling the wrong thing…You would perhaps be the only person selling the real thing. You have proof! I can post a better photo of your plant material, explaining nuclei size and Morus nigra… plus your photo of the seeds lined up against that ruler are pretty hard evidence.


Unfortunately I don’t have more seeds at the moment. The mother tree is in private property in a neighboring city. If I can collect some more seeds, I will send them to You for free, but I don’t want to give You empty hopes.

Some of my seedlings are in the ground, some are yelowing in the small pots and I finaly plant them last week (second photo).
And some are wilt (maybe overwatering).


Thanks for the generous offer, but I have some plants growing from seeds I received from Chriso (his seeds were from Lebanon)…I was just hoping you would be an Ebay seller so that others could continue to try and expand the diversity of this wonderful plant. I suppose it is not worth the hassle (I should know…I was selling Radium weed seeds on Ebay for a couple years and it got old fast). I don’t even know how many seeds are typically in a nigra mulberry.
Sorry for your loss of the two young beauties.


Here is an image from the adaxial epidermis…they don’t have the same “jigsaw puzzle” cell pattern as cells on the abaxial epidermis.


sorry for the late response, was off the grid for a while. [quote=“Livinginawe, post:87, topic:9419”]
photos have some Morus nigra characteristics (What do you think?

got to admit that am clueless. Have no microscope at my disposal so all that i know about mulberry microscopy were solely(and conveniently) gleaned from your posts, which appreciate much :slight_smile:

thus said, i am limited to the most simplistic approach(which you’ve also mentioned) by waiting for the end-products-- waiting for your and others’ seedlings to mature and see if berries are as good as the nigras being sold here in usa. That true nigras can bear viable seeds should be enough grounds to anticipate offspring variations(aka cultivars), or perhaps even hybrids, as with IE. The more diverse the gene pool of nigra-quality berries, then the more chances of finding cultivars tolerant of humidity, extreme cold, wet/poor drainage, etc.


I totally agree, hence my attempts at doing just that…


crossing fingers that your seedlings bear some berries in our lifetime. And if not in my lifetime, hopefully in yours and in the lifetimes of the spring chickens following this blog( actually just noticed some of my hair already going gray, and more than fifty shades of it, yikes!) Taking into account that it took several years for our grafted nigras to produce quality berries, even though grafted with matured/seasoned wood.
Yours and @pileta’s and @Livinginawe 's findings may well be the first fruit-forum documentation of nigra seed-to-maturity timeline.


My Doc says she sees at least thirty more years in me…that should be enough time to bring my nigras to fruit. But these next thirty years are going to be very interesting…if the world can survive our destructive natures.


sounds like you have short lifespans in the east coast, i mean, she’s expecting you’d only live until 58?


kidding aside, it is still possible that nigras might have some precocity growing on their own roots. There’s at least three of us here who’ve documented juju seedlings bearing fruits on the first or second year, even though jujus can be productive for hundreds of years. Mulbs are some of the close cousins of jujus(per genetic studies), so precocity might be a possibility, apart from precocity resulting from chance pollination and possible sub-speciation or actual hybridization, which is the bread-and-butter of this thread


Unfortunately, not much is documented in that regard. But reading old english texts, it is factually stated that black mulberry trees can be grown from seed, an art seemingly lost in the last century…


According some documents there is big morfological diversity among nigra trees:

ISHS Acta Horticulturae 760: XXVII International Horticultural Congress - IHC2006: II International Symposium on Plant Genetic Resources of Horticultural Crops
Authors: J. Brindza, J. Holecyová, D. Tóth
Keywords: Morus nigra L., fruit, preservation, variability, evaluation, nutritional value
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2007.760.58
Black mulberry (Morus nigra L.) is counted among the interesting and economically important fruit tree. On the Slovak territory there are approximately 1,500 individuals of this species. The largest part of this population is in Pukanec village and in its neighbourhood. Many trees are 200 to 300 years old and some of them are in a very bad condition. Our experimental studies were oriented on inventory, monitoring, evaluation and cataloguing of mulberry genotypes spread in Slovakia. A GPS system has localized 954 genotypes totally. In an experimental study was determined traits variability on the level of trees, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds for 480 selected genotypes. Morphometric analyses of the genotypes expressed distinct differences. Leaves length ranged from 34 to 217 mm, width 36 – 193 mm and the stem length 4 – 46 mm. On the fruit level have been found values for length in the range of 10.7 – 27.2 mm and for width 9.2 – 16.3 mm, respectively. Fruits are highly nutritious, their pH value is about 3, they contain ascorbic acid 2.26-18.9 mg.100g-1, total sugar 4.3 – 19.7 and organic acids 0.79 – 1.73 The gained experimental data will be applied for a complex evaluation of the black mulberry populations and for draft proposal oriented on their conservation in situ. The final activity will be the proposition to declare the black mulberry population for a protected species on the Slovak territory.


Good stuff…Thank you for posting that info.


Thanks for sharing @pileta !
the broader the gene pool, the higher the chances of isolating a cold-tolerant, flood-tolerant, and humidity-tolerant nigra mulb :seedling: