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Morus nigra

Berried Treasures

By Beet 2023 12 December

“Here we go round the mul-’bry bush so early in the morning.”  While this old English song calls it a bush, Morus alba, Morus rubra and Morus nigra are actually trees. In the Moraceae family along with figs, breadfruit and jackfruit, mulberries (like quince and several other plants) have lost their positions in home gardens. However, new varieties and awareness campaigns are causing a comeback for this most valuable heirloom tree.

Mulberries have a rich history indeed. Native red fruiting trees (Eastern US coast) have been used for centuries by Native Americans. In the De Soto expedition of the mid 1500’s, explorers observed the Muskogee consuming dried mulberries and Iroquois mixing mashed dried mulberry fruit in sauces and cornbread. The Timucua in Florida consumed mulberry fruits and used their leaves and twigs for dye. The Seminoles used branches for bows.

Chinese white mulberries (wild in China, then naturalized in Europe with leaves providing food for silkworms) were brought to the US in the mid 1800’s for making silk. Though this ultimately proved too costly a venture, the trees survived.

Native Asian black mulberries, cultivated in Europe since Roman times, are still used for their delicious berries and shade. Their leaves were fed to livestock and used for medicinal treatments. They became prized in the Tudor era when 10,000 black mulberry trees were mistakenly bought instead of white for silk production. Silk making was a bust, but the black fruits became all the rage in England.

Although many see mulberries as merely an annoyance, their delicious, nutritious and versatile native red, white naturalized, and black Asian fruits have become more sought after. While mulberries can grow 50 to 80 feet tall, new smaller varieties offer options for backyard gardens. Dwarfed trees still have distinctive delicious blackberry-flavored fruits with phenomenal amounts of beneficial nutrients.  It’s like plucking super blackberries from a tree!  Mulberries are bursting with vitamins (C, K1 and E), potassium, iron and fiber.  They also have phenolic acid, antioxidants and anthocyanins found in black fruits and vegetables.

No matter the variety, mulberries are deciduous — having toothed or lobed alternately arranged leaves along long, graceful stems.  Minute flowers bloom in late spring followed by fruits in white, pink, red, purple, or nearly black, harvestable by late summer.  Self-fertile trees have both male and female (monoecious) flowers on the same tree.  Others are single sex (dioecious) requiring a pollinator.  Although red and white mulberries tend to be the biggies, dwarf, weeping or contorted varieties and black fruited tend to be the most practical size, ranging from 8-10 feet at maturity.

Mulberries grow well in most well-drained soils (preferably away from walkways, patios, and driveways to avoid fruit stains) and away from water or septic lines they’ll want to tap into. They need half-day or full sun and are somewhat drought tolerant once established.  Summer pruning maintains a manageable height.  Fruiting usually begins 3 to 5 years after planting.  It’s well worth the wait. Given its great disease and pest resistance and lovely tropical-like foliage, why not give this tree a try? Then harvest some American heritage — rounding your own mulberry “bush” of bounteous, beneficial, and delicious fruits.



 Mulberry Buckle

Preheat oven to 375°.  Oil bottom and sides of a nine-inch cake pan.


1/3 cup coconut sugar

½ cup organic white, whole wheat, or oat flour

½ cup regular rolled oats

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ cup olive oil

Mix together all ingredients until crumbly and set aside.



2 cups organic white, whole wheat, or oat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2/3 cup coconut sugar

zest of one organic lemon

¼ cup olive oil

1 egg (substitute 1 tablespoon gold flax meal soaked in 3 tablespoons hot water)

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup milk (soy or almond or oat milk)

2 cups mulberries, stemmed


In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, spices, sea salt, sugar, and lemon zest. In a medium bowl, stir together oil, milk and egg until blended. Stir milk mixture into dry ingredients. Fold in mulberries.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle crumb mixture over top. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until cake center doesn’t stick to toothpick. Remove from oven and serve warm or cold with whipped cream or ice cream. Serves 8-10.



One Green World

Raintree Nursery

UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions

Baltimore Orchard Project


Tree Sources:

One Green world

Raintree Nursery*

Both nurseries have many varieties including dwarf, weeping and contorted (this variety is more ornamental having less fruit).