Worthy Red Mulberry project (with cash reward)

This is a contest I feel strongly about because currently there are no commercially available “pure” cultivars of our native Red Mulberry.
I hope it gets a lot of support.
In Weston’s own words:

“We are looking for pure Morus rubra (red mulberry) trees with noteworthy fruiting characteristics and have started a grant-funded contest to genetically test your tree, evaluate the fruit, and help get it out into the world. Have a tree that you think is worth sharing? Please join our contest. The top 10 submissions will receive $200 for sharing scion wood with us so that we can set up a breeding and preservation orchard and help bring this delicious native fruit back into the American diet. Supported by North Central Region SARE.”
Contest Instructions.pdf (1.0 MB)

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Thanks for posting this! I agree with you. I’d like to see some genetically vetted pure rubra cultivars available—and fewer invasive albas and hybrids. I’ve tasted some mighty good rubras—in the rare instances I’ve been able to beat the birds and squirrels to them! I’ve heard some folks opine that they’re second only to M. nigra in fruit quality. (Never tried nigra myself.)

I’ll keep my eyes peeled for good ones for potential submission----and hopefully other members here will do the same.

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Here is a little better identifying page than the one in the link.

https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=moru2

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Yes… That’s a good one. But Weston does supply four website references and three very good identification videos that if studied in their entirety would leave little room for misidentification.

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HEre are two Pictures from your article , but I cannot seem to post pictures off the link .

I brought up a later fruiting one in my alley could be a hybrid
I think it was a dropping from a much older one as that was later as well but cut down
(a 1/2 mile South it still stands,
but 1/2 North of the large one was also a Later bearing one it was large as well, but also cut , by a associate of mine crazy neighbor.)

I hope it may be pure I will check as I want it anyways since it is later bearing.

There is another one in my alley that is Very Heavy bearing the branches hang down (called truck)
If that is a Native it will be very good .

Why do they want Dwarf though seems better to have them grow high, and shake out the berries with a rope?

fnr_237.pdf (2.8 MB)

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Yes… It may be impractical to hope for a low-branching mulberry. Their tendency is to grow straight up, and mature trees seldom have many branches that are reachable by hand (Unlike Morus alba that have a lot of fairly low lateral branches). Also, Red Mulberry quickly discards its lower branches as the tree grows and matures. At one point, Weston was talking about having a U-Pick operation… I don’t know if he is wishfully hoping that he can locate some Red Mulberry that have “low-hanging fruit”.

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I know of 4 wild trees, but only one was always good, unfortunately it recently died.

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That’s a shame… I’m guessing it was a sudden death that didn’t allow you to grab some scions.

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It was close to the river’s edge and we have had high water the last two years, the roots drowned. My problem is I don’t have access during dormant season so never got scion. It’s on an island with no ferry service November to mid April.
I didn’t know the high water killed it till it was too late. It is a shame becasue they were excellent most years. Some years they were just OK, it did vary. I still know of one tree that is decent, but no branches are low, and again I’m not there during dormant season. I have yet to go up, ferry just starting running Saturday.

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Drew I do not know what you could do, but is there a way to contact someone with the GPS Location in your area (I wouldn’t know maybe someone here could give a Idea)

I know twisted tree Nursery which is a single Nursery business as far as I know
worked to learn how to root cuttings from Mulberry.
(there was a topic here also , but I didn’t follow)

knock stick out of tree with rope thrown high with weight while in season, and send it to him Maybe?

By the way OP Living In Awe thanks for the link I didn’t know the tell tale signs of Identifying Morus rubra or white as well.

I think I hear a lot that all new ones are hybrid , but I do not believe that statement
I think it is something repeated by the Internet there are still trees hundreds of years old.

Also think about this if white Mulberry does not do good in deep woods ,
but red does do good in deep woods then wouldn’t there be some pure breed ones in the woods.

I know what some may say well maybe the hybrids can go in both, and then cross,
but I think that would just be being Negative.

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I have been able to locate quite a few true Red Mulberry in preserves and hammocks here in North Florida because there are very few White Mulberry (Morus alba) here so far, but that is rapidly changing. Very few are excellent in taste though.

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I don’t have any to share, but just planted a few M.rubra on my property. I’m interested in growing fruit species native to North America so having access to improved varieties in the future is exciting.

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USDA link
White mulberry is native to China and was introduced to North America in the 1600s. In 1624 the legislature of Virginia required every male resident to plant at least 4 white mulberry trees to promote a North American silk industry.

Yikes… I suppose that would make finding a pure rubra that pre-dates albas introduction here a tad difficult. A 400+ yr old mulberry would certainly be impressive though.

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I never sampled a M.rubra that I didn’t like.
M.rubra is still pretty common out in rural areas of my county, but hybrids show up here an there. M.alba is everywhere in town - in every fencerow or ditchbank.
Sadly, our state forestry nursery isn’t helping things much. Several years back, we bought a bundle of 100 ‘Red Mulberry’ seedlings… there was not a single M.rubra in the bunch… all were hybrids… many look like they’re 3/4 or more M.alba genetics. Recent discussion with the local state forester revealed that he was responsible for coming up with seed for the nursery, and he couldn’t find a fruiting M.rubra, so just gathered any mulberry fruit he could find. I’m pretty sure that if all I had to do was drive rural roads looking for a fruiting M.rubra, I could find one…

I have 2 fruiting M.rubras within sight of the house… one I grafted onto M.alba 20-something years ago, from a tree a couple of miles away. They’re nice, but not great…

I had a M.rubra selection I’d made in AL that was GREAT!!!, but either it was not compatible with M.alba rootstock, or was not reliably cold-hardy 400 miles north of its origin, as it failed 2-3 yrs out from being grafted on three occasions… and the last time I was back home… the ortet was dead.

Even before this announcement, I was on-board to be driving the backroads, looking for fruiting M.rubras for myself and a friend who’s a fellow mulberry freak, currently working for the Savanna Institute.

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That’s great! I hope you find a winner.

That is terrible. Over several years, I have observed photos of bulk Morus rubra seedlings for sale… and most haven’t been too convincing (look contaminated). I suppose that even if a “pure” tree is found, unless it doesn’t have Morus alba within many miles, the seeds from her fruits are very likely to be “contaminated”. Mulberry pollen is less than 20 micrometers in size and is carried many miles on a windy day.

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Just a note: The “mother” Morus rubra that I gather my seeds from is surrounded by dozens of male rubras and I have never observed anything other than pure-looking Morus rubra in that hammock (South Barr Hammock in Alachua County FL). So even though there could be a male Morus alba within 5 miles, most of the pollination would be very predominantly from Morus rubra.

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Yep. I’d be reluctant to send ‘M.rubra’ seed, collected from trees in my orchard to anyone with the expectation that all resulting seedlings will be pure M.rubra. I’m only 5 miles from town, and I know that some of those seedlings from the state forestry nursery are males… I’m hoping to ‘cut the head off’ of all of those that have managed to get above deer browse height this spring and graft them over to good fruiting cultivars(mostly hybrids, themselves).
But… to have a professional forester admit that he didn’t do due diligence to at least source seeds from a confirmed red mulberry… was disappointing, to say the least.

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The ones I know of are from the wild. The area was developed somewhat, but only with cottages, no city water or gas lines, or cars for that matter. The area still produces wild mulberries and pawpaws.
I could try getting a cutting of one late fall, maybe graft it in the fall, or try grafting green wood. I would think enough trees are still around that this project would be fine.
I have now introduced other species to the island. The cultivar Oscar is now on the island. One of the few alba’s that will grow in my zone. I grow others but protect them.

True but you do not need to, as here in Michigan no albas were introduced so all the rubra species is pure, although the hybrids have been here now for a while. Still areas do have wild rubra all over.

My opinion is local (to me) rubra would be great breeding stock to make more hardy hybrids. I’m not really into “just native” plants. I’m looking for large hardy mulberries.

I agree as the same is true here in the great white north. Bet our rubra’s are totally different beasts than those in Florida.

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years ago i bought what cold stream farm called pure rubas. planted 2 of them but neither made it. not cold hardy enough but i got 3 albas. river view, nothrop and another wild alba from cold stream. trying to graft that one over to illni. everbearing for 2 years now with no luck. friend of mine from M.D was looking my yard over and immediately identified my mulberries. he said his old place in M.D had tons of wild red mulberry.

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I agree with you totally on that one!

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