How to plant BlackBerry?

Josephine Red Raspberry Fruit Imagine plucking a sun-warmed raspberry or blackberry from its vine and popping it into your mouth — every time you walk to the garage or out the back door. Adding perennial berry plants to your Morgan Hill landscape makes this possible and it is surprisingly easy to do.

Planting berries

Raspberries and blackberries can be planted from late fall through early spring. These plants tend to spread, so select a location that will naturally limit their growth. Placing them next to fences and buildings is ideal because they can provide trellising. To install plants, dig a wide, shallow hole that can contain all the roots. Trim off any dead or damaged root tissue and spread the roots out, within the hole. Roots should not be planted more than 2 inches deep. Cover with soil and press down firmly to eliminate any air pockets. Water well to settle the soil and hydrate the canes. Cut newly planted canes to a height of only 6 inches. Red raspberry plants are generally spaced 2 to 3 feet apart, while black and purple varieties are spaced 3 to 4 feet apart.

Training berries

Cane berry plants produce more fruit and stay healthier when they are trellised. Cane tips that reach the ground will start producing roots, rather than flowers and fruit. Only the largest canes should be retained.

All others should be pruned out because smaller canes produce smaller fruit. Also, tip back canes to prevent them from getting longer than 6 to 8 feet. The further a berry is from the crown of the plant, the smaller it will be. Canes should be fanned out for good air circulation and to make it easy for pollinators to reach the flowers. Before removing older canes, check to see when your particular variety produces fruit. Some canes produce fruit on one-year-old canes, while other produce on older canes.

Watering cane fruits

Raspberries and blackberries use a lot of water, but they do not tolerate standing water or soggy soil. Frequent watering is very important during bloom time. Too much heat and water stress at bloom time can eliminate an entire season’s crop in a condition called “berry blast.” Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are excellent tools for keeping your berry plants healthy and hydrated without wasting water.

Other benefits of berries

Adding berries to your landscape also provides pollen and nectar for beneficial insects, food for indigenous birds and wildlife, and most casual thieves won’t brave a blackberry bramble to get to your back door.

Raspberry and blackberry canes grow well in Morgan Hill, and they are easy plants to add to your landscape. Try them today.

You can learn more about growing berries and other edibles at the South County Teaching and Demo Garden, found at St. Louise Hospital, 9400 No NameUno, Gilroy. Classes are regularly offered to the public. For more information, check the events page or call (408) 282-3105 between 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

by UC Master Gardener Kate Russell

This article first appeared in the September 27 – October 10, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life.

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Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

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Tuesday – November 06, 2012

From: Salina, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Poisonous Plants, Vines
Title: Plant with dark black/purple berries in a cluster
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Today at our local dog park we noticed a bush/vine that’s been growing up the fence is producing berries. It didn’t flower at all. The berries look to have started out green and now are changing to a dark almost black/purple. They are in a small cluster of about 7-10 together. I popped one and inside is a big seed and a bright green liquid. The stem is a little fuzzy. The leaves are very soft and silky but not shiny. The leaves are also slightly pointed at the end. Can take a picture if this will help. Just let me know. We’d like to know what it is and if it’s poisonous if the dogs should the eat any. Please answer back and thank you.

ANSWER:

Below are five suggestions of vines native to Kansas for the identification of your plant. Only the first is reported to be toxic. Hopefully, what you found is one of the non-toxic plants so that you don’t have to worry about your dog eating the fruits.

The fruits of Menispermum canadense (Common moonseed) are reportedly highly toxic according to the Poisonous Plants of North Carolina. Here are more photos and information from the Herbarium at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

There are two species of Smilax:

Smilax herbacea (Smooth carrionflower) and here are more photos and information from the Plant Diversity Website at the University of Michigan.

Smilax lasioneura (Blue ridge carrionflower) and here are more photos and information from the Plant Diversity Website at the University of Michigan and from the Freckman Herbarium at the University of Wisconsin.

There are two grape species:

Vitis riparia (Riverbank grape) and here are more photos and information from the Herbarium at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Vitis vulpina (Frost grape) and here are more photos and information from Duke University.

Neither of the Vitis species occurs on any toxic plant list that I could find.

If none of these are the vine you saw, please visit the Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

From the Image Gallery

Common moonseed
Menispermum canadense
Smooth carrionflower
Smilax herbacea
Smooth carrionflower
Smilax herbacea
Blue ridge carrionflower
Smilax lasioneura
Blue ridge carrionflower
Smilax lasioneura
Riverbank grape
Vitis riparia
Frost grape
Vitis vulpina

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Family:

Grape Family (Vitaceae)

Other Names:

None.

Origin and Distribution:

Virginia creeper is native of eastern North America. In Ohio, it grows throughout the state. It is found in both natural areas such as woods, fields, and stream banks and disturbed sites including orchards, vineyards, roadsides, fencerows, and no-tillage fields. Sometimes it creeps along the ground but usually it climbs over trees, fences, utility poles, or buildings. This woody vine tolerates a wide range of soil conditions from dry and sandy to moist and rich. It is adapted to grow in full sun but is also moderately tolerant of shade.

Plant Description:

Virginia creeper is characterized as a rapidly growing perennial vine with foliage that turns bright red in the fall. Traits that distinguish this creeping or climbing vine from other vines include compound leaves with 5 leaflets and oval-shaped adhesive disks that form at the tips of its branched tendrils. Plants establish by seeds and spread by rooting at stem nodes.

  • Root System:

    Roots form at the nodes whenever vines come in contact with soil. Stems – Stems are woody and either trail along the ground or adhere to objects and other plants by way of small oval disks that form at the ends of branches.

  • Leaves:

    Leaves are alternate (1 leaf per node) and compound consisting of 5 (rarely 3 or 7) leaflets. Leaflets radiate from a central point like fingers from the palm of your hand. The oblong leaflets are 2 to 6 inches long and have toothed edges.

  • Flowers:

    Virginia creeper has inconspicuous greenish flowers that are small and form in clusters consisting of 50 to 150 flowers.

  • Fruits and Seeds:

    Fruits are small, blue-black berries about the size of peas. Many fruits aggregate in small terminal clusters. Each berry contains 3 or fewer seeds.

Similar Species:

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is another woody vine but its leaves have 3 (rarely 1 or 2) leaflets compared with Virginia creeper, which usually has 5 leaflets. Also, Virginia creeper tendrils end in oval-shaped adhesive disks while poison ivy adheres by way of aerial roots that give stems the appearance of a millipede. In addition, Virginia creeper has small blue-black fruits whereas the fruits of poison ivy are white berries. Thicket creeper (Parthenocissus vitacea) is a woody vine with compound leaves, but it is usually trailing rather than climbing. Although the tips of thicket creeper tendrils may appear enlarged, they lack adhesive disks. Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) has tendrils that are tipped with adhering disks. However, Boston ivy leaves are 3 lobed and have smooth edges compared with Virginia creeper leaves that have 5 leaflets with teeth along their edges. Also, Boston ivy tendrils are much shorter than Virginia creeper tendrils.

Biology:

Flowers appear in June to July. Fruits ripen in October. Stems grow as much as 20 feet in one year. The leaves of this deciduous woody vine turn brilliant red in the fall. Virginia creeper is sometimes grown as an ornamental that is valued for the color of its foliage in autumn. Berries are an important food for birds in winter. Controlling Virginia creeper with herbicides is problematic because the foliage must be covered thoroughly without harming other plants that may be supporting the climbing vine.

Toxicity:

The berries as well as the leaves are reported to be toxic. Consumption of berries causes nausea, drowsiness, and profuse sweating and can lead to death. Touching the autumn foliage may cause dermatitis in a small percentage of individuals.

Facts and Folklore:

  • Teas made from this plant have been used to treat numerous ailments including jaundice, gonorrhea, and rash caused by contact with poison sumac.

  • Virginia creeper has been used as an astringent and a diuretic.

  • ‘Leaves of three, let it be; leaves of five, let it thrive’.

  • It has been estimated that 10 pounds of force would be required to separate a Virginia creeper vine adhering to a surface by way of 5, disk-bearing branches.

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Blackberries ripening on the bush. Flickr image by Colin

If you have a small garden area or an empty raised bed you’re wanting to plant something in, then you might toss around the idea of growing some blackberries. Caring for blackberry plants isn’t a difficult task and the berries are absolutely delicious! Thornless blackberry shrubs are the most common type chosen by gardeners since they are easier on the hands during harvesting time. Here are some pointers on how to keep your blackberry plants happy and healthy:

Planting

The best time to plant blackberry bushes is early in the spring. When ordering them via catalog, they will generally come in the mail at the correct time of the year. Even if you order blackberry plants in the middle of winter, they will often be shipped during springtime in your part of the world. Plant your bushes as soon as possible or store in the refrigerator until you are able to.
Three to six hours before planting, unpack and soak the bush and make sure to trim off any broken roots. Keep the roots of the plant out of the sun while it is soaking and also while it’s waiting to be planted in the ground. Dig a hole large enough for you to be able to spread the roots out and allow them plenty of room to grow. Space plants 2 to 4 feet apart when planting multiple blackberry bushes. Push all the dirt back into the hole and pack it down a bit. Water thoroughly and cover with mulch to prevent too many weeds from cropping up.

Watering

For the first few weeks after planting, water the plants during the day and make sure the first inch of soil remains moist. You don’t want the roots to dry out and shrivel up! During the growing season, provide the bushes with 1 to 2 inches of water per week. But, once harvesting season arrives, they will need closer to 4 inches per week. The roots are very shallow, so it’s easy for blackberry bushes to dry out too much if not monitored closely in extremely hot weather.

Pruning

Do not prune any part of the bush during the first year. Use hand-held clippers each year after the first and be gentle! After the first year, plants should be pruned back to 40 to 48 inches. When blackberry bushes get too tall and lanky, they can be damaged by high winds and snow. Get all your blackberry bushes pruned early in the growing season. If there are any lateral branches coming off the canes, cut them back to 12 to 18 inches. So, when you finish pruning, the bush should be 40 to 48 inches tall and have branches no longer than 18 inches long coming off of the main cane.

Blackberry canes live for two years, but the roots produce new canes yearly. As long as you follow the pruning schedule to remove dead canes as they appear, you should always have healthy plants producing berries.

Want to do more to live off the land? We’ve got a book for you! is full of great information on how to turn a medium size yard into a great food resource.

Fertilizing

10-10-10 nitrogen fertilizer should be used. The fertilizer needs to be added several feet away from the actual plant, so as to not burn the roots with the fertilizer. You can add fertilizer once the soil around the blackberry bush has settled. Fertilizer can be used each year to help improve berry production.
I hope these blackberry bush care tips help you get a great start on your own little blackberry garden. Blackberries are excellent to eat by themselves or you can freeze them or make preserves out of them for the winter time.

What type of blackberry bushes were you thinking of planting?

Caring for Fruit Trees and Bushes: Blackberry

How to Plant, Care, and Prune Arapaho Blackberry Bushes

Blackberries are often considered one of the easiest fruits to grow at home. They are a native species to the United States and grow as a small shrub or trailing vine. The fruit from this plant can be used for table fruit, syrup, jams, and jelly. Proper care starts when you select a proper plant, and what you do in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its life span.

This guide will take you step by step, from selecting and planting the right fruit trees, bushes, and vines for your backyard garden or orchard, all the way to upkeep of your mature tree.

Choosing a Site

Light: Full Sun

Soil: Prefer acidic to slightly basic (6.0-7.0), well-drained, organic soil. However, they adapt to most soil types except alkaline and wet. If you have clay soil, you will need to amend with organic matter. To increase the soil’s organic content, amend with organic mulch-wet peat moss, well-aged sawdust, straw or leaf litter.

Pollination: Blackberries are self pollinating.

Hardiness Zone: 4-9

Minimum Chill Hours Needed: 400-500

Where to Plant: Blackberries tend to form thickets and are vigorously rooted. Locate the plants where you can control “volunteers. ” Blackberries have long roots and send up suckers many feet from the parent plant. Leave room to mow around the beds.

Do Not Plant: In established garden areas where you have previously planted vegetables or fruit plants. Plant blackberries 300 feet away from raspberries.

Trellis Support Not Needed: ‘Arapaho’ blackberries do not need a trellis for support. However, they can be trained to a trellis no higher than 6′-8′.

Top 10 Fruit Trees

How to Plant Blackberry Bushes

For best results, plant your blackberry bushes in early spring. Once your plants arrive, plant them immediately. If you cannot plant immediately, keep new arrivals cool and roots moist. To keep cool, it is recommended that you store in refrigerator or cool place.

  1. Unpack and Soak: Unpack blackberry and soak in water for 3 to 6 hours just before planting.
  2. Cut Broken Roots.
  3. Cover Roots: Cover roots from sunlight when planting. Blackberries have a high mortality rate when roots are exposed to sunlight while planting.
  4. Dig Hole(s): The width of the hole should allow you to spread roots. If you are planting multiple blackberries dig holes 2′-4′ apart. If you are creating several rows, dig holes 6’12’ apart.
  5. Spread Roots in Hole.
  6. Shovel Dirt Back in Hole and Add Amend Soil.
  7. Water: Give each plant 1″-2″ of water. The plants are rather shallow rooted, so moisture needs to be at the surface. Do not let soil become dry to a depth of 6″.
  8. Add Fertilizer: A weak liquid nitrogen fertilizer may be applied at planting. Keep fertilizer 3″-4″ away from the base of the plant to avoid burning the roots.
  9. Mulch: Mulch the first year to keep the weeds down and increase the crop yield, but do not mulch after that unless the soil is very sandy.

How to Prune Blackberries

First Year Pruning: First year erect canes should be left unpruned.

Annual Pruning after First Year: Hand-held clippers are necessary when pruning. First year erect canes should be left unpruned. Second year canes should be pruned back to 40″-48″. Pruning encourages lateral branching and increases cane strength, so they don’t fall over in snow and wind. Pruning should be done early in the growing season to decrease wounds that cause cane blight. Lateral branches should be cut back to 12″-18″.

During the second year, remove damaged, weak and rubbing canes. You should thin out healthy canes closer than 6″ apart. Any pruned or removed canes should be disposed to eliminate the spread of disease and insects.

Read the complete guide for more Blackberry care tips.

Blackberries That Grow in Wisconsin

blackberries image by haemengine from Fotolia.com

Wisconsin is home to many species of blackberry. Blackberry has many common names, including marionberries, dewberries and loganberries. Blackberries are members of the Rubus family, which also contains raspberries. Many of the blackberries in Wisconsin are native, but some have also been introduced. Cultivation methods for all blackberry varieties are very similar.

Rubus Wisconsinensis

Rubus wisconsinensis, or the Wisconsin blackberry, grows into a rounded blackberry shrub. Wisconsin blackberry will need pruning to keep it to a manageable size. Growing well in most soil types that drain well, Wisconsin blackberry does best in full sun, but can also grow well in partial sun.

Rubus Wheeleri

Wheeler’s blackberry, or Rubus wheeleri, is a variety of blackberry that is similar to other forms of blackberry. Wheeler’s blackberries thrive in the same sun conditions as Wisconsin blackberries. If planting any kind of blackberry in Wisconsin, plant upright varieties 4- to 6-feet apart. Make sure you give your blackberries an inch of water per week from June through the end of the growing season.

Rubus Spectatus

Rubus spectatus, or sphagnum blackberries, are bushes that generally grow in a rounded form. Like Wisconsin blackberries and other berries, it grows best in full sun. It also, like the Wheeler’s blackberry, should be spaced 4- to 6-feet apart and given at least 1 inch of water from June until the end of the growing season. Fertilize this blackberry, and other blackberries, in the spring with 1 to 2 inches of compost or composted manure.

Rubus Rosa

The Rubus rosa, or the rose blackberry, is another form of blackberry that grows well in Wisconsin. The flowers of this blackberry are hermaphroditic and contain both male and female parts, making pollination of very easy. Care and cultivation of the Rubus rosa is similar to other species of blackberries.

The Wild Blackberry in Wisconsin History

“Sadie reached deep into a bush and nimbly fingered three berries into her hand. ‘My mama says there’ll be no blackberry cobbler this winter if I don’t fill these pails.’” – Aubrey’s Attic

At the start of Harold William Thorpe’s children’s chapter book, Aubrey’s Attic, two girls meet a bear while picking blackberries in northeast Wisconsin, circa early 1800s. One girl, Sophia Grignon, is based on a real historical figure.

The real Sophia Grignon was born around 1815 at present-day Kaukauna along the Fox River. When she was three, her father, fur trader Augustin Grignon, established a trading post at present-day Butte des Morts, Wisconsin.

To learn more about the Grignons, read the article Real Life Characters: The Grignon Family, on the Novelist Harold William Thorpe website.

The Grignons were among the first white settlers in what was then a wild, northwestern corner of Michigan Territory, mostly home to Indians and wolves. White settlers began flooding in when Wisconsin became its own territory in 1836, then a state in 1848.

So, did Sophia Grignon really pick wild blackberries?

While there is no actual record of her doing so, it’s hard to image that she did not. At the time, wild blackberries weren’t hard to find.

Travelers to what would become Wisconsin in the early 1800s noted in their journals the abundance of wild fruit, including crabapples, grapes, cherries, plums, mulberries, billberries, thimbleberries, strawberries, gooseberries, dewberries, currants, huckleberries, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries and raspberries. Blackberries, they noted, grew in sunlit and partially shaded openings of northern forests, ripening in late summer.

“Of all our native fruits, for eating out of hand, the blackberry is my favorite. The nectar from such as this is surely fit for the Gods,” wrote W.A. Lawton, of Twin Bluffs, Wisconsin, in an undated Wisconsin Horticulturalist essay titled “The Blackberry.”

“It was the picnic season of the year when they were ripe; then the father and mother, the boys and the girls, would take each a pail proportioned to his or her ability as a picker, and proceed to the blackberry patch, there to meet with neighbors and friends from far and near, and pick and visit until our pails were full, or until it was time to return home.”

Indians who had long lived in the region knew, of course, where to find such juicy treasure troves. White settlers quickly discovered these places, too. As the state’s white population grew, settlers also brought with them cultivated varieties of blackberries. Farmers planted new strains of blackberries along fencerows. The remnants of fencerow blackberry plantings can still be found today along former dividing lines between farms.

Indians and early settlers gathered blackberries not just for eating, but also for medicinal purposes; blackberry juice is a natural remedy for diarrhea and was mixed into throat-soothing tonics. Blackberries are also high in vitamins and antioxidants.

In the late 19th and early 20th Century, researchers worked to produce varieties of blackberry canes that could be easily grown in home gardens, and on commercial berry farms. Pamphlets and books like Bush Fruits: A Horticultural Monograph of Raspberries, Blackberries, Dewberries, Currants, Gooseberries and Other Shrub-like Fruits, written by Fred Wallace Card in 1898, an e-book version of which can now be downloaded for free from Google Books, detailed how to plant and tend different types of berries. Soon, berry farming became serious business. In 1909, Wisconsin farmers produced 498,000 quarts of blackberries and dewberries for sale.

Today, blackberry canes that will grow in a home garden can be purchased from seed catalogs, including from J.W. Jung Seed Company in Randolph, Wisconsin. Some modern everbearing varieties are ready for picking in late June, more than a month earlier than their wild counterparts.

Today, wild blackberry patches are hard to find near populated areas; urban development has mostly wiped them out. But in state and county parks and national forests in Wisconsin, where they have been protected, wild blackberries can still be found. You just have to know where to look.

And what do you do with blackberries once you’ve picked or harvested them? The best blackberry recipes may be those found in cookbooks of the past, used by farm wives a century or more ago. They can be found in antique stores and, increasingly, on Google Books.

Google Books, in recent years, has begun publishing e-book copies of a vast array of titles, including obscure cookbooks. Titles beyond copyright protection (released prior to 1923) can be downloaded for free. A recent search found many old cookbooks, that were crammed with wild blackberry recipes. The recipes ran the gamut from savory – pickled blackberries and blackberry catsup – to sweet – blackberry pies, jam, muffins, and puddings — to alcoholic – blackberry wine, cordial and brandy.

Here’s a sampling of Blackberry Recipes

Blackberry Vinegar

From Fruit Recipes: A Manual of the Food Value of Fruits and Nine Hundred Different Ways of Using Them, by Mrs. Riley Maria Fletcher Berry, 1907.

Allow two gallons of water and a half-pound of sugar to each gallon of mashed blackberries. Mix and place in cask, with tablespoon of yeast. Set in warm place and shake every few days. May be drained off in three months to get rid of pulp or new holes bored in cask to prevent inconvenience.

Blackberry Pudding

From Tested Recipe Cook Book, by Mrs. Henry Lumpkin Wilson, 1895.

One-half pound butter, 1 pound brown sugar, 1-1/2 pounds flour, 4 eggs, well beaten, 1 quart blackberries; cream the butter and sugar, add flour and eggs, alternately, put in a baking dish, lay blackberries on top, bake in a moderate oven; in baking, the berries will be evenly distributed; serve with wine sauce. – Mrs. Henry Bryan, Dillon, Ga.

Blackberry Charlotte

From The Myrtle Reed Cookbook, by Myrtle Reed, 1916.

Mix a boiled custard with one quart of milk, the yolks of six eggs, three-fourths cupful of sugar, and grated lemon peel to flavor. Line a serving-dish with slices of sponge cake dipped in cream and filled with alternate layers of cakes and blackberries crushed and sweetened. Pour the cold custard over, cover with meringue, and decorate with blackberries.

COLGATE — The blackberries are ready to pick, but the season for picking will be over soon! At Basse’s Taste of Country, you can pick strawberries in June, raspberries and blackberries in July, then apples and pumpkins in the fall.

About Basse’s Taste of Country (website)

Family owned and operated, Basse’s Taste of Country has roots in Muskego, Wisconsin where owners Becky and Roger Basse ran a similar business for five years. After working there for another seven years, the Basse’s decided to branch out to Colgate, Wisconsin and started the Basse’s Taste of Country store in September of 2000. Currently Roger and Becky, along with their son Blake and daughter Sarah, strive to create an environment in which families can enjoy themselves and grow lasting memories and traditions!

The Basse’s extend their love of family to their business, and offers family-orientated fun and educational activities all season long! The farm family fun starts in the spring season with U-pick strawberries in June then followed quickly by U-pick Raspberries and U-pick Blackberries in July. Later in the fall season will be U-pick apples (starting in 2017/2018), and to wrap up all the fun each year is our ever growing and improving pumpkin farm with our fall fun packed pumpkin festival! So round up the family and come on out to enjoy the farm and grow memories with us!

43.193647 -88.196815

For many years, my only knowledge of mulberries was the nursery rhyme about children dancing around a mulberry bush.

The mulberry was kind of a mythical fruit for me, something that existed only in fairy tales, not in the real world. It was not until I was in my twenties that I encountered an actual mulberry tree loaded with ripe fruit. One taste of those divine berries, I realized what a delicious treat I’d been missing out on. If you’re like I used to be and know little about the mulberry, here’s an introduction to this delicacy.

To start, mulberries grow on a tree, not a bush. The first time you see a mulberry fruit, you might think you are looking at a blackberry with a bunch of tiny purple-black spheres stuck together into one compound fruit. But this resemblance is superficial—mulberries differ from blackberries. Mulberry tree branches are completely thornless without the prickly spikes that make harvesting wild blackberries such a challenge. Another difference is that while blackberry fruits are full of tiny hard seeds, mulberries have no detectable seeds, they’re just fruit all the way through.

Mulberries taste sweet and juicy, with lots of delicate fruity notes. Most varieties turn purple-black at maturity, and these types generally have a sweet flavor, with just a touch of tartness that gives a nice balance to their sweetness.

As delicate as they are delicious

These purple-black mulberries tend to be loved right from the first taste—this isn’t a fruit that you have to learn to like. There are also some mulberry varieties with fruits that are whitish at maturity. The flavor of these is also sweet and fruity, but lacking in any tartness. Opinions of the white-fruited varieties vary—some people enjoy them, while others find the lack of any tartness to balance the sweet gives the berries a cloying sugary taste.

Children generally love both types of mulberries, and they’ll eat these healthy treats in quantity. This is a great fruit for kids. Years ago, when friends of mine gave birth to a daughter, we planted a mulberry tree in their yard in the baby’s honor. As the little girl grew, so did her tree, becoming more and more productive, providing more berries for her to eat each year.

You’ll rapidly realize when picking the darker-fruited mulberries that these are extremely delicate fruits. Your fingertips quickly get stained purple-red from the intensely pigmented mulberry juice squirting onto your fingers. (Some children–and adults–take advantage of this to decorate themselves, painting their faces and arms with mulberry juice while on the hunt for these sweet treats!)

Mulberries’ delicate nature is why you’re unlikely to see them in grocery stores—they’re simply too fragile to handle packaging and shipping. This is a berry that’s best enjoyed straight off the tree and into the mouth. Mulberries also go well in smoothies, jams, and pies– anywhere you’d use your favorite berry. Freezing these fruits is a way to prolong their availability.

Where to find mulberries

Wherever you live, chances are you’ll find a mulberry tree that will thrive. Mulberry trees are adaptable to wildly different climate zones. There are a number of species and varieties of mulberry and forms of it grow all the way from the sunny tropics to northern lands with long, frozen winters. Mulberry trees ripen their sweet fruits alongside mango trees in Thailand, as well as next to spruce trees and sugar maples as far north as the Canadian Maritime provinces.

Not every mulberry tree makes good berries. Some trees are male and never produce any fruits. Some trees produce berries so small they’re not worth much as an edible. If you can’t find any good fruiting mulberry trees to forage from in your area, don’t despair: you can plant one, and it will grow and bear fruit in just a few years. You might find good fruiting types at a trusted local nursery. If not take a look at mail-order nurseries specializing in edibles. Avoid plants labeled simply “mulberry,” because it may not be a good fruiting type. You want to get a named-variety mulberry that has been selected for good fruit production. Some varieties adapted for Southeastern Massachusetts are ‘Illinois Everbearing’, ‘Gerardi Dwarf’, ‘Kokuso’, and ‘Oscars’.

If you’re planting a dark-fruited type, make sure to plant your mulberry tree where falling fruits won’t stain a driveway, car, or patio (yours––or a neighbor’s.) Mulberry trees like lots of water and are tolerant of wet feet, so if there’s a low, damp spot on your property which gets at least a few hours of direct sun during summer, that’s an ideal spot for a mulberry tree. This is a tree that grows fast and fruits quickly, so if you give it good conditions, in just two or three years, you can be foraging your own sweet home-grown mulberries.

If you have mulberries on hand, use them to make a refreshing mulberry shrub.

Craig Hepworth is a tropical fruit fanatic. He now lives in central Florida and posts online about his fruit-growing adventures as Florida Fruit Geek. He has an enthusiastic following. This story comes to us from Edible South Shore.

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