The black mulberry (Morus nigra), also called “fruit mulberry” is a fruit tree of the Moraceae family, originating from Western Asia and in particular from the South of the Caucasus, Armenia and Iran. Today, it is also naturalized in North America (Canada, United States), Europe and China.
It has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean basin since antiquity for its delicious fruits, which are unfortunately rather neglected nowadays, despite its many uses and virtues. Indeed, it is now often grown in our cities as an ornamental tree, and we forget that its fruit is nevertheless quite edible!
Botanical description of Black Mulberry (Morus nigra):
Black mulberry is a slow-growing, monoecious tree that can reach up to 20 meters in height. Its 15 cm long deciduous leaves are heart-shaped, alternate, glabrous or slightly pubescent on the underside of the leaf.
Self-fertile, it flowers in the spring in the form of catkins which give edible fruits about 25 mm long, very staining which mature between July and August. They must be consumed quickly because they are quickly perishable.
Of great longevity, the black mulberry can live up to 120 years. Subsequently, it is not uncommon for the tree to split in two under the weight of the main branches. The tree can survive like this, but more often than not, shoots appear at the base of the tree.
What are the differences between white mulberry (Morus alba) and black mulberry (Morus nigra)?
Although some sources state that the white mulberry produces white fruits and the black mulberry produces black fruits, this is not true. The black mulberry always bears dark purple, almost black fruit, but on the other hand, depending on the variety, the white mulberry can produce white, yellow, purple or black fruit. The fruit of the white mulberry is sweetish before maturity, while at the same stage that of the black mulberry is more acidic. When fully ripe, that of the white mulberry is quite bland and very sweet, that of the black mulberry is sweet and slightly tart.
The uses and virtues of black mulberry in the kitchen:
The flavor of black mulberry fruits appeals to almost all of the general public. They are very popular in the countries that cultivate them, in the Middle East (Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Israel) in particular. Their fruits, eaten raw for dessert, are considered a delicacy, in the same way as raspberries, but they are rarely marketed because of their fragility. The taste is reminiscent of wild blackberry, although sweeter (less acidic). Its fruit can be declined in syrup, liqueur, jam or even in jelly like the wild blackberry. Its fruits are also used to make wine in Cornwall. The juice of its fruits can be used in gargles to relieve sore throats.
How to sow and grow Black Mulberry? What are its cultural requirements?
Sowing is generally done in place in autumn, around September-October. But can also be sown in spring, for this it is necessary to carry out a period of 4 to 6 weeks of cold stratification before sowing. Then, sowing in a good substrate, in a sunny position and at a temperature of 20°C.
The black mulberry is very water-intensive during the growth period, so do not hesitate to water it well, especially after transplanting it into the ground. When the root system is well established in depth, watering can stop. It does not require maintenance or special pruning. It is perfectly rustic.