Safeguarding Mulberry Trees
By Dennis Senft
August 8, 1997
The United States now has a central library for mulberry trees
and their genetic relatives. Trees of 19 mulberry accessions have been planted
at the Agricultural Research
Services Clonal Repository at Davis, Calif., and other accessions are
being considered for inclusion. Cuttings from the trees--suitable for rooting
or grafting--will be available next year to plant breeders and researchers.
The national collection of trees ensures that future generations will have a
variety of genetic material for breeding better mulberry trees. Consumers value
the trees for their sweet, berry-like fruits as well as the shade they provide.
Until now, mulberry collections were maintained only by hobbyists and private
Interest in the mulberry is on the increase. For example, Fruit Gardener magazine has named it the
1997 Fruit of the Year as part of an effort to recognize valuable
but unusual crops.
The new mulberry collection includes five identified Morus species,
two mulberry hybrids and three Morus accessions for which the species
names are unknown.
The repositorys curator is asking researchers, hobbyists and the fruit
industry for help in describing the major characteristics of each accession. He
also seeks information about other mulberry plants being considered for the
collection. Important factors include the trees origin, fruit
characteristics, productivity, climate adaptability and other horticultural
Of particular interest is an accession that goes by the common name
Pakistan. It produces an abundance of long, slender fruits. They
can grow to about 3-1/2 inches long in Virginia and 4-1/2 inches in California.
Most mulberry varieties bear fruit only about 1 to 2 inches long.
The Davis repository is also home to the nations collection of
almonds, apricots, cherries, figs, warm-season grapes, kiwifruit, nectarines,
olives, peaches, persimmons, pistachios, plumcots, plums, pomegranates and
walnuts. ARS stores germplasm for preservation and research at 25 other U.S.
Scientific contact: George A. White, USDA-ARS
National Clonal Germplasm
Repository, Davis, Calif., phone (916) 752-7009, fax (916) 752-5974, e-mail