We’ve just passed the height of strawberry season, so what’s fruiting now? Is it blackberry season? Not quite! How about blueberries? Not for awhile yet!
Right now the mulberry (Morus rubra) trees are in fruit — and are the fruits wonderful! They look a lot like blackberries or raspberries, but pick one and you can tell it’s another animal entirely — the stem comes off with the plucked fruit. No matter — it’s tender. You can eat it right along with the delicious fruit.
There are some big differences between mulberries and blackberries or raspberries, not the least of which is that mulberries grow on trees, the other two on bushes. (Forget that nursery rhyme about the mulberry bush — I’m not sure if monkeys do chase weasels, but mulberry bushes don’t exist — not around here, anyway.) And each mulberry is formed from a cluster of tiny flowers — each “bump” on the berry is the fruit of a different flower.
Mulberry trees — not this species — are what silkworms feed on before forming their cocoons from which silk is made. And they’re kin to osage orange (Maclura pomifera) trees. In fact, if you think about it, an osage orange (also sometimes called a hedge apple) looks a little bit like a giant green mulberry. Same idea, anyway, but not good to eat!
Mulberry season is short — so eat up while you can!