Polka Dot Cottage: Mulberry quest

Mulberry quest

Posted June 16th, 2010 by

Red and black bird

20x zoom allowed me to capture this pretty red bird, far, far up in a tree last night.  I think it’s a Scarlet Tanager.  (Have I mentioned how much I love this camera??)

Oh, look – the bird is in a mulberry tree!

I’ve been on a quest for years to find somewhere that I could harvest a small bucket of mulberries.  To be honest, in previous years it wasn’t so much a “quest” as a “keeping my eyes open at farmers markets” thing and the occasional “google search.”  But this year, a chance Facebook comment from a college friend alerted me to the presence of mulberries in a local county park, and now the quest is in high gear.

I’ll skip the embarrassing details of how my sister and I met up at the park and spent two hours wandering around without finding anything.  Or, more specifically, we found no mulberries, but there was a nice bramble of black raspberries.

Black raspberries

So it wasn’t entirely fruitless.

Last night I went back, this time with Neil and the kids, and we did find the mulberry trees.  I think they were easy for my sister and I to miss because they didn’t look anything like we expected.  When we were kids, we had a huge (or, it seemed huge to me, being a kid and all) weeping black mulberry tree in our side yard, but I’ve recently learned that is not the only kind there is.  In addition to black mulberries, there are also white and red varieties, and most of them are your standard tall-growing tree, and do not “weep.”

I don’t know how old our tree was, but it certainly had been there when my grandparents owned the house.  When they retired and moved away, we used to bring them containers of fresh-picked mulberries during summer visits.

That tree was cut down 25 years ago, to make room to expand the house.  I wasn’t a berry eater then, but I am now, and I’m starting to miss that tree.  Ever since I began making jams in the summer, I’ve had it in my head that it would be fun to make a batch of mulberry jam and give it to my Dad. I think he’d like that.   All I need is to find someplace to get the darn things.

Red and black bird

So back to the bird on the mulberry tree.  I don’t know if those are the white variety or unripe black ones.  Any mulberry experts among us? (Here’s a larger version of the photo if you need it.) What I’d really like to know is this: (1) what time of year are black mulberries ripe, and (2) can I come pick a bucket of them off of your tree?

I promise not to track the purple juice through your house :-D

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  • Kim McCaffrey says:

    Here in Va, the black mulberries are in season, or ending.

    My guess on the tree is that it is a white mulberry since the berries aren’t showing pink.

    Beautiful photo of the bird in the tree. I would agree that it was a scarlet tanager.

  • Alison says:

    Mulberry trees were the first ones we cut down when we moved in! They’re like weeds, and when you cut one down, it grows from the stump. I’ve got a good dozen or so growing out of the lawn. . .I can dig them up for you if you really want. (You might be better off planting them in someone else’s yard. . .)
    ✿ Enjoy this post from Alison: Nebraska Abortion Laws FAIL

    • Lisa says:

      Ooh, yes, I would love one!! (Don’t think I need a dozen, LOL!) I can put it near the back of the yard, where I’ll be less likely to walk through smooshed purple berries on my way in the house. [My mother never let us in the front door during Mulberry season - we always had to come in the back and take off our shoes. It was the only time of year I was encouraged not to wear shoes in the house. Ah memories. Heh.] Let me know when/how you’d like me to come get it! (And thank you!!)

  • Marty says:

    Don’t think mulberry trees grow here in Montana. We also don’t get the Scarlet Tanager, but we do get the Western Tanager, which is making an appearance in our area right now. They don’t come every year but when they do, what a treat!
    ✿ Enjoy this post from Marty: Shop Update

  • Elizabeth says:

    Planting new Mulberry trees in El Paso Texas is illegal, how about that? Seems that when the town was going through its 50′s growth spurt with the military all the transplants wanted great big green trees that were drought resistant and grew fast. Enter the mulberry.

    I love them, but they are cut down and killed shamelessly here because of their pollen count and our pollution issues. If you have a well established one, it doesn’t have to be killed. Shhhhh, lean in, a friend of mine found a baby one growing in his yard and I transplanted it to mine. It is doing very well and in a couple years I will have wonderful shade! Don’t tell, please, LOL. I don’t want to end up in Mulberry tree jail. :D

    Anyway, I’m jealous of your endeavor, but have fun.

  • MelissaS says:

    now I’m intrigued – there’s a tree in our neighborhood that drops those berries and I thought they were early (VERY early) raspberries! Hooray for Freecycle!
    ✿ Enjoy this post from MelissaS: Bright Stripes

  • Alison says:

    I just hate these trees because the berries get into the lawn and can’t be raked out, which means the backyard is unusable because of all the flies the rotting berries attract. If you do happen to walk where the tree is, you have to remember to take your shoes off before you come inside (or get into your car) because the stains are almost impossible to get out. And yeah, it’s highly invasive. And if you cut it down, it sprouts from the stump.

    However, Lisa, I’m going to bring a couple to the next polymer clay meeting (which I finally plan to attend, whether I have something to do or not. . .) My hint to you is to keep it trimmed to bush size. Don’t let it get to tree size. As a bush, you can pick all the berries instead of having them rot on the ground, and you won’t get them growing where they want instead of where you want!
    ✿ Enjoy this post from Alison: Nebraska Abortion Laws FAIL

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for the advice. I’m thinking of putting it in a back corner of our yard that doesn’t see much foot traffic. I do remember as a child that our mulberry tree stained the sidewalk purple, and my mother wouldn’t let us in the front door for a month.

      I haven’t been to guild meetings much lately, myself, but I’ll try to get to the next one. If I am not going to be able to do it, I will let you know! Thanks again :-)

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