Pendula: The Weeping Mulberry

During the first few years I was able to observe the Pendula mulberry, I did not care for the fruit. I considered this tree, which was fairly young at the time, to be more of an ornamental, but after it had some time to become established and I became comfortable giving the berries more time to ripen, my sentiment towards it began to change.

There is some variability in the quality of Pendula's mulberries. A few of them will be watery, but I don't notice this often enough for it to be a concern. Furthermore, if you harvest them before they are thoroughly black, or a very dark purple, they will have some acidity with a flavor that I don't entirely care for, but if you wait a little longer, the acidity fades and it develops some sugar as well as a rather milky taste. It is quite unusual.

This year, a decent number of them are larger and much sweeter than they have generally been in the past, with a few close to an inch in length. In some cases, it seems like the sugar content is almost equivalent to that of Sweet Lavender, a variety that can be very candy-like, when it does not have a slightly herbaceous flavor. This might be part of the reason why I don't mind the variability in Pendula's quality. While I enjoy having a few, I would rather not have that many with such a high sugar content, and sometimes it's nice to get a touch of acidity, so the other flavors don't become overwhelming.

One of the main benefits of this tree is that it has a fairly dwarfing and a strong weeping habit. This makes it much easier to protect the berries with netting than most other varieties, but Pendula has a few flaws as well. The leaves are susceptible to disease, so I wouldn't use it as an ornamental in anything other than a fairly dry climate. Some years it can be quite bad, but I don't remember if this occurs late in the season or not. This year, there are only a few leaves that have it right now in mid-July, and while it has rained a good amount over the past few weeks, there was a drought throughout much of spring and early summer that may have delayed its emergence.

Pendula might be susceptible to popcorn disease as well (an affliction that exclusively targets the fruit), since this is often the case with Morus alba, but this disease is primarily an issue for those who are south of the warm-summer humid continental (Dfb) climate. There is, however, an alternative if you live in such a region and would rather not worry about fruit or foliage-related disease. Gerardi Dwarf also lacks the vigor of the other varieties, but it has a few other differences from Pendula. It produces berries that are larger and with a more enjoyable flavor when acidity is still present, and it does not grow in a weeping manner.

Another problem with Pendula is that once the berries turn purple, they barely latch on to the tree, so you may lose quite a few during harvest. Fortunately, it doesn't take long for it to produce enough that it hardly matters. Mulberries have been harvested from this tree for over 2 weeks now, and while it's hard to see them behind the leaves, it seems like it just won't stop. This is, of course, typical with other mulberry varieties, but they don't have the same growing habits as Pendula. They are normally quite tall and difficult to reach, but with Pendula, it is so prone to weeping that you have to train it to grow to the height that you desire before you set it free.

Related: Mulberry Varieties