4 Mulberry Varieties (Mulberry Different Varieties)

Red and black mulberries on a branch.

Mulberries are packed with nutrients and goodness, although most people are unaware of them. They have a grape-like flavor and a structure that is comparable to that of a blackberry. Mulberries, also known as shahtoot, are high in nutrients and vitamins, and a cup of raw mulberries contains only 60 calories, making them a great snack. They can not only help you control your blood sugar, but they can also help you avoid cancer. Not to mention the fruit’s distinctive sweet flavor, which has made it a worldwide favorite.

The fruiting mulberry is a member of the Moraceae family’s Morus genus. Mulberry hybrids are made up of three different mulberry species: white mulberry (Morus Alba), red mulberry (Morus rubra), and black mulberry (Morus nigra) (Morus nigra). The Russian mulberry is a white mulberry hybrid (Morus Alba tatarica).

The mulberry isn’t named after the color of its fruit; for example, some white mulberry cultivars yield a rainbow of colors.

Mulberry trees are cultivated for a variety of purposes. The strong trees are commonly planted in plains regions for windbreaks in addition to producing sweet fruit. The ornamental forms of the leaves make them ideal specimen trees. Because silkworms only eat mulberry leaves, the white mulberry was initially grown for silkworm cultivation.

The fruit is sweet, ranging from somewhat sweet to very sweet, and has a blackberry flavor. The Pakistan mulberry is a huge, delicious fruit. The majority of mulberry tree species produce fruit that ripens over time rather than all at once, and pollination is not required for fruiting. Because all darker mulberry fruit is intensely colored and will stain whatever it comes into contact with, it is recommended to plant specimen trees away from sidewalks and pathways.

Mulberry Varieties

The three types of mulberries come from different parts of the globe. The red mulberry (sometimes known as the American mulberry) is native to eastern North America. The white mulberry, which has been bred for silkworm production, is native to China. Asia is home to the black mulberry.  

Morus Alba (White Mulberry)

White mulberries on a branch, focused shot.

Morus Alba (White Mulberry) is the most widely cultivated of the Morus species. While there are few white-fruited cultivars, the majority of cultivars bear ripe pink to black fruit.

The flavor of the white-fruited Morus Alba differs from that of the black-fruited Morus Alba; the former is said to taste like watermelon. Although the flavor is very subjective, Morus Alba has a wide range of fruit quality. Cultivars of Morus Alba are sweet, while the cultivars and hybrids of Morus rubra are known for being flavorful. Morus macroura has a distinct “raspberry” flavor, and Morus nigra is frequently rated as having the best taste.

White Mulberry thrives and bears the most fruit when planted in a location that receives at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. It can withstand poorer and drier soils than Morus rubra variants. Once planted, it just requires minor care and fertilizing. The pH of the soil should be less than 7.5. It can reach 70 feet in height and live for 250 years. It’s usually found at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet.

Cultivars:

  • Beautiful Day: It produces small-sized, very sweet mulberries that don’t stain,
  • Contorted: It is an ornamental variety. Its branches have a very attractive wavy appearance.
  • Downing: It is an old variety (1800’s). It produces a good quality fruit for extended periods.
  • Dwarf Everbearing: It is often falsely identified as Morus nigra. It has small but sweet fruit. It produces fruit for several months.
  • Dwarf mulberry Issai: It is more suited for humid conditions. It is very prolific and produces large fruit of very poor quality.
  • Florida Giant: Lit has large 10-inch long leaves. It is a fast grower and fruits later than most of the Albas.
  • Kokuso (Korean): It was originally classified as Morus latifolia, a separate species because of its large, delicious fruit.
  • Middleton: It produces great quality fruit. It is prolific.
  • Riviera: It takes quite a while for the fruit to ripen.
  • Rupp’s Romanian: It is similar to Illinois Everbearing, but the berries are plumper.
  • Russian (Tatarica): The leaves of this variety are usually lobed. It is tolerant of cold and drought. It is often smaller, more like a shrub.
  • Tehama: The mature tree produces large and plump fruit that can be as big as 2.5 inches.
  • Weeping: It is an ornamental variety with graceful branches that flow to the ground.
  • Sweet Lavender: It is non-staining. The ripe fruit has a feel of lavender.
  • David Smith Everbearing: It produces medium-sized fruits, and production lasts for a long season. It is compact and very hardy.
  • Northrop: It is an exceptionally hardy cultivar that produces black fruits.
  • 4 Seasons: It is also known as ’46C019′. It is currently is the most widely planted mulberry variety in Taiwan. It produces medium-sized and moderately sweet fruit in abundance.
  • Jan’s Best Dwarf Everbearing: It produces larger fruit and has a greater level of disease resistance than the standard Dwarf Everbearing.
  • Maui: It poses a very vigorous growth.

Morus rubra (Red Mulberry)

Red mulberries on a branch.

Morus rubra (Red Mulberry) performs better in less sunny places than Morus Alba, despite fruit yield being inversely proportional to the amount of sunlight. M.rubra loves moist, organic-rich soil, but once established, it can grow in drier conditions. M.rubra trees that have been established for several months may even resist having their roots inundated. Morus rubra, unlike Morus Alba and Morus macroura, can grow in more alkaline soils. Morus rubra is native to North America. However, pure Morus rubra strains may be becoming scarce since one study of Red Mulberries in Canada found that 54 percent of them had hybridized with Morus Alba.

Red Mulberry trees produce fruit singly along a branch, while White Mulberry trees produce fruit in bunches. It’s best to eat the fruit while it’s still red (before it turns reddish-black), as it has a lovely acidic flavor at that stage.

Morus rubra has fewer cultivars available than Morus alba, possibly because Morus alba was planted in large quantities throughout the eastern United States for breeding silkworms (Bombyx mori), whereas Morus rubra is not readily accepted by the silkworm.

Red Mulberry thrives in a wide range of conditions, from full sun to light shade (fruits heaviest in full sun). Although it prefers moist, high-organic-matter soil, it will thrive in a wide range of soil types up to pH 8.5. It can withstand prolonged drought and flooding once planted. It can reach a height of 70 feet. It can reach elevations of 3500 feet or higher.

Cultivars:

  • Hick’s Everbearing: It’s an old variety. It bears abundant sweet fruit over a period of3 to 4 months. It is not a pure Morus rubra.
  • Illinois Everbearing: It bears ears great quality fruit for a long period. It is generally listed as a hybrid of rubra x alba hybrid.
  • Johnson: It’s an old variety. Its fruit size is large but not prolific.
  • Stubbs (from 1870 Georgia): It is a prolific producer of delicious fruit. It is not a pure Morus rubra.
  • Travis: It comes from Travis County, Texas.
  • Wild type: It has variable fruit quality. Some fruits may be bland, while others taste exceptional. It is generally not as prolific as mulberry varieties.
  • Varaha: It is a prolific Red Mulberry

Morus nigra (Black Mulberry)

A bowl full of ripe black mulberries.

Morus nigra is uncommon among mulberries in that it is highly polyploid, with 14 sets of 22 identical chromosomes instead of the 14 pairs found in Morus alba and Rubra (308 chromosomes). Because the countervailing chromosomes disguise a mutation in one chromosome, highly polyploid species like Morus nigra may be more resistant to creating new variations. There appear to be fewer distinctions between the so-called cultivars as a result of this.

Morus nigra may withstand higher levels of alkalinity than other mulberry species. It prefers a Mediterranean environment and has a small range in the United States, mostly confined to US Agricultural Zones 6-9 west of the Mississippi. In some parts of the United States, it occurs unintentionally due to a cold or sickness.

The Black Mulberry is the mulberry species with the slowest growth rate and the longest lifespan. Fruit with the most flavor is often thought to be the tastiest. When compared to alba and rubra, it can handle drier soil. It needs full sun to bear fruit. It can reach 45 feet in height and live for 500 years or more. It is usually found at altitudes of up to 6500 feet.

Cultivars:

  • AGM: It is an excellent performer when it comes to fruit production. It is also a great ornamental tree.
  • Black Beauty: It is the most dwarfed than other Morus nigras.
  • Chelsea-King James: It originated in the Chelsea Physic Garden, London. It’s a highly praised fruit.
  • Jerusalem: It has been propagated from an old tree that produced particularly great fruit in Jerusalem. It has large leaves that give it an ornamental effect.
  • Kaester: It is an elongated fruit. It originated in Los Angeles, California.
  • Noir of Spain: It was introduced by Felix Gillet in Nevada City, California, around 1880.

Morus macroura (Long mulberry, Tibetan, or Himalayan mulberry)

Although there are many different cultivars of Morus macroura in the United States, the majority are called ‘Pakistan’ or ‘Shahtoot’ (which means ‘King Mulberry’ in Persian), though some cultivars or hybrids of Morus alba are also termed ‘Pakistan’ because they have elongated fruit (or called Morus alba in error).

The term ‘Himalayan’ mulberry is often used to refer to a different species called Morus serrata, but I’m not familiar with it. With a fruit that can reach four inches in length, Morus macroura is really “King.” The red varieties’ flavor is generally characterized as raspberry-like, and it’s best to eat them while they’re still firm. The fruit is harder and less stained than that of other mulberry species.

Morus macroura thrives in the Deep South, where it can survive extreme heat and humidity. It also looks to be the disease-resistant mulberry species.

Pakistan has been observed to survive down to Zone 8 (with rare reports of ‘Pakistan’ surviving down to Zone 6 with adequate acclimation), although most fruit crops will be lost to late frost. Hard cold following spring bud break can also cause serious damage to the plant. It can grow up to 100 feet tall (Thailand; unconfirmed), but it usually stays under 60 feet tall. It grows in a variety of soil types and has even been known to flourish in heavy clays.

Mulberries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat. They are not only good for your health and appearance, but they also taste excellent and make delectable meals. So pick a mulberry kind that appeals to your palate and appreciate the delectable sweetness!

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