Mulberry variety ‘Skinner’

Mulberry variety ‘Skinner’. These fruits grew on a small plant growing in a 3-gallon pot. As a mulberry tree grows, it tends to produce larger, tastier fruits, so it’s encouraging that even a small ‘Skinner’ mulberry plant was able to produce such large mulberries, which had excellent flavor.
The newest mulberry in my collection is variety ‘Skinner’, acquired from Josh Jamison. This is another of the mulberries varieties with extremely long fruits, a group I’ve been focusing on collecting.
We’re not sure what species ‘Skinner’ is, possibly Morus macroura or Morus wittiorum. Josh propagated it from what is probably the only mature tree of this species in the United States, in Homestead, Florida.
It was just a couple of months ago that I got my small ‘Skinner’ mulberry, but already the little plant has grown quite a bit in its 3-gallon pot , and has ripened some fruits, enough for me to sample them. The flavor is excellent, sweet & fruity, kind of a fig-raspberry taste. As mulberry trees grow larger, they generally make larger, more intensely-flavored fruits than the ones they made as a small plant, so it’s encouraging that these taste so good even on a small potted plant.
The long-fruited forms of mulberry are an exciting group that are not widely grown in the US, but unfortunately there’s a huge amount of confusion about them. I see people variously applying the names ‘Pakistan’, ‘Himalayan’, ‘Shahtoot’, and ‘Long Red’ to what are clearly different varieties under the same name.
Josh Jamison and I are trying to clear up this confusion as best we can. By sharing varieties and keeping them well-labelled so that we know we’re talking about the same cultivars, we’re comparing notes on growth characteristics, adaptability to different climate zones in Florida, productivity and especially flavor.
I took this photo of the flowers of ‘Skinner’ mulberry on June 13, 2020. The resulting fruits shown in the other photo in this post were ripe on July 7. That’s less than 30 days from flower to ripe fruit.

I consider one member of this group the most supremely delicious of all the mulberries I’ve eaten: variety ‘Himalayan’, which I got from the Fruit & Spice Park. (Because of the name confusion, when I see someone online talking about the characteristics of ‘Himalayan’, it’s hard to know if they actually have the same ‘Himalayan’ as I do. Maybe I should start calling the one I have ‘Himalayan FSP’.) I look forward to being able to compare well-grown ‘Skinner’ and ‘Himalayan FSP’ fruits, to figure out which is the most delicious mulberry of all. One difference is already apparent – I’ve never seen ‘Himalayan FSP’ make much fruit as a small plant in a container – it seems to want to grow into a full-size tree before it starts producing. ‘Skinner’ appears to be much more precocious in its fruiting.

Another couple things we’ll be evaluating ‘Skinner’ for is a pair of issues affecting many mulberry varieties in North and Central Florida: nematode sensitivity, and a tendency to early budbreak. Both of these characteristics vary considerably among cultivars. We can deal with nematode sensitivity by grafting onto resistant rootstocks, but if a variety breaks dormancy too early, it might be best suited to growing only in the southern part of the Florida peninsula.
Josh & I both plan to propagate ‘Skinner’ so that we can distribute it, but takes a little time to make that multiplication process happen, so it’ll likely be a couple years until plants are available.
Stay tuned for more reports on growth characteristics and availability of this promising variety.
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4 thoughts on “Mulberry variety ‘Skinner’

  1. Would be very interested in obtaining. Grow from cuttings? Never had luck with Pakistans from cuttings, while the old time black mulberry rooted high per centage.

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    1. I think what I have is a cutting-grown plant of ‘Skinner’, so apparently they do root from cuttings. As soon as this plant is big enough, I’ll start trying to do some cuttings and taking scionwood for grafting. It’ll be at least a year or two until I have any plants available for distribution. Normally I don’t post about a variety until I’ve gotten a little more experience with it. But this little plant made such a nice crop of tasty (and photogenic) berries, I got excited & decided to post about it early.

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  2. Started following your blog postings because I discovered a love of mulberries last year. Didn’t know that mulberries and nematodes might not coexist until I happened upon your blog posts. I am growing an small orchard in sandy soil in North Carolina in zone 7b with plans to add mulberries this fall. When you field test your ‘Skinner’ variety for nematode resistance and begin to produce cuttings for distribution, I will be interested in getting cuttings to test for zone and early outbreak for colder zones. Thanks for sharing your experiences about growing mulberries. There isn’t nearly enough research out there for folks like me to learn from.

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