Mulberry taste?

chuck60February 22, 2011

There are a few threads going about different mulberries, but I didn't want to hijack one of those for this.

The only mulberries I've ever eaten were from yard trees in the small East Tennessee towns I grew up in. They were so bland that none of us kids cared for them, even though we were known to eat many other wild fruits, some of which were probably poisonous. After following some of the threads here on mulberries, I have read descriptions of some mulberries as being delicious, scrumptious, etc. The best tasting seem to be the Black Mulberries that wouldn't grow here in Missouri anyway, but I do wonder if they are really all that good. Do they compare with the bramble fruit they look like? Some are said to have some acidity to balance the sweetness, and that appeals to me. I'm always looking for something new to kill, so is it likely I would be happy with an Illinois Everbearing or one of the other varieties that might grow here, in the unlikely event I managed to get it to the fruit-bearing stage?

I'm not really all that pessimistic, but lately I find optimism easier to manage if I balance it with a touch of fatalism. As mulberries are also touted as good "protection" for other fruits, it also seems that even if I don't care for the fruit the birds might like it better than my peaches and apples.

Chuck

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trianglejohn

The only info I can add is that down the street from me is a large city park with bands of woodland winding around the soccer fields. A lot of the weed trees are mulberry and there is one that grows out in the open away from all the others. Out of hundreds of trees that one has incredible flavor. The others seem to be hybrids with the berries being all shades of purple and the berries seem to go from creamy white to purple without turning red in between. The tasty tree has the typical pale green to red to purple fruit that tastes a lot like good blackberries.

There is variation in the fruit flavor and thats why you should buy a named cultivar if you want good berries.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:54AM
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djofnelson(7ACtrlVAfoothills)

I grow a number of mulberries, but other than some seedlings with lousy fruit, only my IE has fruited yet. The taste of the IE fruit is different than brambles, but I still really like the taste. The fruit is sweeter and firmer than brambles. If you choose the hardy varieties (such as IE) and can keep the deer away (which seem to love mulberries leaves), IE is very vigorous and is extremely easy to grow. I can't really think of a plant that provides so much tasty fruit with so little effort.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 12:42PM
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mish01(5)

I have 2 white muberries of different varieties. They are very sweet,sweeter then the IE,hardy zone 5 and have more sugar content.The area stays cleaner. (bird droppings)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 2:31PM
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lucky_p

Chuck,
IE is the 'gold standard' in my orchard. Very tasty berries with good sweet/tart balance and good flavor; heavy production for a period of 6 weeks or more, from early June to late July. But, performance varies from place to place - I have a friend in Flint MI, who says it's just so-so for him there, and it didn't perform all that well for the NAFEX mulberry 'expert' at Mt. Olive, NC.
I have several native M.rubra selections that rival IE for flavor and fruit size, but the season is short - only a week or so for them. I've never tasted a rubra that wasn't great!
There was a really tasty - and prolific - mulberry(at that time, I couldn't differentiate between alba, rubra or hybrids) in our yard at Rocheport, MO that was fantastic - I think it was an alba or a hybrid; I'm certain it was not a pure rubra. But other than that one, I've not come across another M.alba that was worth propagating - and the white-fruited varieties hold absolutely no appeal to me - sweet/grassy, with no acid. ugh.

I would bet that you'd be happy with an Illinois Everbearing; others that might be worth considering, if you can find them: Collier, Stearns, Wellington(it's a 'dog' here), Silk Hope, Oscar's, Kokuso.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 3:24PM
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djofnelson(7ACtrlVAfoothills)

I know that Burnt Ridge sells Silk Hope, Oscar's, and Kokuso and Edible Landscaping carries Collier.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 4:00PM
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denninmi(8a)

I live about 25 miles south of Flint, Michigan, or about 25 miles north of Detroit. Lucky, any problems your friend in Flint had with Illinois Everbearing doing poorly wouldn't have been due to the climate here -- mulberries thrive, and are among our worst pest trees, actually, growing on all of the vacant land and coming up in vast numbers each year from bird droppings. My IE does great.

It's hard to really describe the flavor of something. I would say that Illinois Everbearing mulberries are most similar in flavor to a fully ripe and sweet blackberry, but they are not the same by any means. They make wonderful pies, sauces, jams and jellies, and are great to eat out of hand. The biggest drawback to mulberries is that the fruit is very, very fragile and tends to stain and mush right in your hand no matter how careful you try to be with it.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 4:47PM
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chuck60

Thanks for the comments. I'll probably add IE mulberry to my varied fruits, if not this year then next. Lucky_p....guess what my PO address is.....Rocheport! I may have to go to town and see if I can find that mulberry tree.

Chuck

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 8:26AM
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lucky_p

Chuck,
The place we lived was on Hwy 40, about a mile west of Route J - (12021 Hwy 40 W.); to the best of my recollection, the tree was just a few yards inside the chainlink fence, to the left of the driveway. My kids would 'graze' for hours, and come in stained purple from head to toe.

Dennis,
My buddy in Flint didn't have any trouble growing IE, he just had others that performed better for him - including one that he had purchased as 'Pakistan', but was not; it was a rubraXalba hybrid of some sort, and while it was his top performer there, it was just so-so here - better than a seedling alba, but not as good as any rubra or hybrid.

Another mulberry affectionado who used to hang out here - grapenut(I've not heard from him in a while) - had grown various mulberries in Riverside CA, and in WA/OR - and had noticed that some varieties were significantly 'better' in one location than the other.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 2:32PM
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lucky_p

Hey, Chuck -
If you manage to find and gain access to that tree(if it's still in existence), I'd be interested in getting my mitts on a couple of sticks of budwood from it, if the current owners/caretakers/residents will allow it.
I've been gone from there for nearly 17 years - but from the Google Map photo I just looked at, I'd be willing to bet that it's still there.
From this distance and time passed, my recollections of it may be clouded by nostalgia, picturing my kids eating those berries - it might not be as good as I remember, but sure seemed like a good one at the time.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 2:41PM
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posturedoc

The best selection of Mulberry trees I've found is at Whitman Farms up in Salem Oregon. The owner, Lucile, is a pistol - super fun to talk on the phone with and brutally honest about her likes and dislikes when it comes to the fruit she grows and sells. How refreshing is that?

Below is a link to her mulberry selection.

Here is a link that might be useful: Whitman Farms

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 4:06PM
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chuck60

Lucky_p,

I'm actually only about a mile up Route J, so I'm real close to your former place. I'll see how things look on a drive-by. If I see the tree I may be able to work up the nerve to ask the folks there now if I can get you some scion wood.

Well, I went for it and called Burnt Ridge to see if they could add an IE to the trees I already have coming next month. I'll have to see where the heck I can put it. If it was up to me, I'd plant it in the front yard, well away from the house and walks and such, where it would attract the birds away from my other fruit and still be handy for me to pick. It is not up to me. SWMBO has a "thing" about trees and shrubs that produce fruit being in the yard. I did manage to get her to let me plant a couple of crab apple trees at the very edge of the yard, but they are so pretty in bloom that she overlooks their practical purpose.

Chuck

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 5:43PM
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thisisme(az9b)

I purchased a Large Grafted IE from Burnt Ridge last year. Their version of Large that I paid extra for was a 36" tall 1/4" caliper branchless whip. The top 20" of it was dead and never leafed out so I had to cut it off. I ordered another one from Womack that was delivered in late January this year which is of much better quality.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 6:53PM
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chuck60

Looks like Burnt Ridge is getting mixed reviews, but I've been happy with my orders from them so far. They only listed large size IE, but at $15 I'll be reasonably happy with just a decent sized tree. I think the only tree from them that I've lost was an Asian pear, and I figure I drowned it. The order I have coming is for seven trees, eight if they add the mulberry, so I'll have a better idea of their quality when those trees arrive.

Chuck

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 7:37PM
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glib(5.5)

I have four female trees near my home, and two near my work. One of them is sweet but insipid, as you say. The rest range from very good to excellent. And the nice thing is, the trees that are not too big, all it takes is a tarp and some muscle to pick a bowl in two minutes, by shaking the tree or a big branch. No spray, of course. If I had to have only one fruit tree, in the midwest, it would be mulberries.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 10:30PM
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djofnelson(7ACtrlVAfoothills)

For what it is worth, of the 5 mulberries I've ordered from them, 4 have been in the 1/2-3/4" range (a few with huge roots) and 1 was only a bit over 1/4", so on average I've been pleased with what I got for $15. I've got another 3 on the way from them. Also, at least here, IE grows like a weed, which is one of the reasons I ordered a few more (to provide quick growing shade in addition to fruit).

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 10:41PM
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chuck60

About how long do mulberries take to make fruit? I ask because I'm feeling my age. :>)

Chuck

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 11:04AM
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djofnelson(7ACtrlVAfoothills)

My IE bore fruit the 2nd year which I think is fairly common if the tree gets off to a good start the first year.

I'd definitely protect it well with fencing from deer because the deer here absolutely love the leaves more than just about anything else (including cherry trees).

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 1:05PM
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chuck60

Any tree I plant is in a fence circle until it gets big enough that it can't be turned into a bush by the deer. After this last fall, I'll also religiously protect all the trunks of trees I remove the fences from. Bring back the timber wolves! Just kidding....I guess.

Chuck

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 1:35PM
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fruithack

I had Oscar, Kokusa, Collier, Persian, Black Beauty, Shangri La, and Illinois Everbearing. All I have now is Illinois Everbearing because all the others were so poor in comparison.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 4:50PM
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chuck60

Well, now y'all got me excited! Probably a good thing since I now have at least ten trees coming next month.....and it is snowing here in mid-Missery. My place is still saturated from the nearly two feet of snow that just melted off last Saturday. I'll be digging in mud unless it is dry from now until the trees arrive, which is doubtful. So, enthusiasm may be necessary!

Chuck

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 5:06PM
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iammarcus(6)

Chuck I too am feeling my age, my granson reported that I would never see any fruit from any of my trees or berries!
I assume he is just passing along what he heard from my wife or kids, but I intend to prove him wrong. I have an IE from Burnt Ridge, hopefully it will bear this year. I have not had 100% success with Burnt Ridge, but I reordered from them again this year, 3rd in a row.
Some of their trees I burned with strong liquid fertilizer, along with trees from other sources.
Dan

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 11:00PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Nobody has mentioned the Geraldi dwarf mulberry. Can anyone comment on how it stacks up against the IE?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 12:09AM
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fabaceae_native

Chuck60,

I'm always surprised when somebody mentions a dislike for mulberries, even or especially the wild ones tasted as a child, so despite everyone's above cultivar suggestions from their obvious wealth of experience about mulberries, you still might not be impressed.

I don't mean to be pessimistic, but those native mulberries you had as a kid were some of the tastiest, so you might be one of those people who should just look into something else altogether. But, for the record, and for all those like-minded folks out there, YES, MULBERRIES CAN BE DELICIOUS AND SCRUMPTIOUS, and although they really don't taste like blackberries exactly, they can certainly be on a par with them.

Taste is, after all, subjective...

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 9:04AM
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chuck60

Fab,

You may be right, but in my case even if I don't find the fruit of my IE worth collecting, and none of my kids or grandkids do either, I can always hope that the birds prefer the mulbarries to my peaches and apples. Last year the bluejays decimated my Red Haven peaches. We got NO unpecked peaches from those two trees. If the jays prefer the mulberries to other fruits that alone will justify the few dollars I'll have in the tree. If I like the fruit, well it sounds like the tree might be productive enough to allow me to get some while still keeping the birds busy. We'll see how it works out in a few years I supppose.

Chuck

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 10:26AM
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eukofios

For what it's worth, I planted an Illinois Everbearing mulberry whip from Raintree, in Feb 2010. It was an unbranched whip about 1/4 inch diam but had a big root mass. It got 2 mulberries late last summer, so I was able to taste a mulberry for the first time in my life. I liked them.

I pruned it back heavily because I keep my fruit trees under 8 feet tall. I'm trying to avoid falling off ladders. That is best done by staying off ladders. The compact size and shape also lets me net the trees. I left 3 small scaffold branches about 2 feet off the ground, which is how I do cherries, figs, and plums. I have never read that you can do this with mulberries, but it works for other fruit trees so why not. One branch had rust so I removed it, leaving two.

Now the remaining branches have new growth from every node, the new growth has mulberry flowers at every node, so I 'll get to taste a few more this year. Maybe enough in 2012 for a pie.

Which goes to show, you don't need to live another 20 years just to taste your mulberries.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 7:25PM
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elizh(z5/6 MA)

I just bought two of the dwarf 'Issai' (an alba) from Logees in CT. They are selected for frequent bloom cycles if grown indoors, and in fact they have fruit and flowers too. However, they don't taste as good as a really tall - like an elm - outdoor specimen I remember. I wonder if they are not sweetening indoors as they would in the broader sun of a greenhouse or outdoors. I certainly can try them outdoors (L notes that it's easy to net the little ones!) but... the point is to grow them even in the winter.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 6:49PM
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tigerj

I can't really add much to the "taste" discussion, but I'll do what I can. In Rochester, NY, where my daughters live, many yards have "volunteer" mulberries growing somewhere. One of my daughters is a homeowner, and we discovered several while cleaning up her yard for the first time since she bought the place.

I'm guessing they were white mulberries. It is quite confusing because white mulberries can be white, red or black depending on cultivar. Red mulberries can be red or black, but black mulberries are only dark. These volunteers in my daughter's yard were bearing black fruit that I would describe as bland or insipid. Others have described white mulberries as "insipid," so I'm guessing that's what these were.

I started some rubus nigra, or black mulberry a couple years ago from seed I purchased over the internet. If memory serves, I think they came from www.seedman.com. They germinated very easily compared with some other seeds I purchased at the same time. I kept one that I planted in my yard. I asked the seller if they would survive in my zone (5). He wouldn't guarantee it, but thought they would. So far so good, though the leaves are definitely frost tender. We had a couple late frosts this year, and twice young leaves wilted and died from the frost before it was finally able to send out leaves that didn't get nipped. It didn't seem to hurt it much though, as it has grown at least a couple feet taller this summer. Too soon for fruit, but I'm looking forward to tasting it as the black mulberry is said to be the best tasting by many.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 10:24PM
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