‘Rosie’s Giant’ Mulberry has an interesting and peculiar story. This mulberry was selected in Gibsonton, Florida for its large and delicious fruits, nematode resistance and ease of propagation.
The name is derived from Mrs. Rosie who owned a tire shop off of Highway 41 in Central Gibsonton. I met Rosie several years back when she was sitting in the front of her shop chatting with friends and members of the community who came to share a word with her. Rosie had a deep connection with her local community and employed many people at her shop. She would often share stories of her family, old Gibsonton carnival days and most importantly life with her friends, passersby and customers.
Over six years ago when I was on my lunch break, I decided to go to the tire shop and chat with her. I asked about the mulberry trees on her property which I had spotted and observed regularly when I drove by. I asked about the tree in question and the three others on the property. She was ecstatic that someone knew the fruit and took me on a brief tour of the property. She showed me all four trees with two of the four being heavy producers but with small and not so tasty fruit. The other two trees in the front of the shop were special because they were growing in the worst and most compacted soil next to tire-shop heavy machinery. That being said, the smaller of the latter produced good fruit but didn’t seem to bear large quantities. The last tree she showed me was littering the ground with large thumb sized fruits. We ate many and I asked her what she called the tree, she did not have a name for it but said it was a wild tree on the property. I asked her if I could name the tree after her and get propagation material. She said “of course” and the ‘Rosie’s Giant’ cultivar was created.
‘Rosie’s Giant’ is an excellent option for Florida and the Southeast. We have since propagated many trees and they are being grown throughout Florida and even some in Georgia. It is a great tree for fruit production, animal fodder and rootstock. Although Rosie’s business is up for sale and the Tree’s future is uncertain we have backed it up at our nursery to preserve its genetics and Rosie’s love for her community.