White Mulberry Morns alba L.

Moraceae

The white mulberry is a native of China, Japan and India. Its leavesserve as food for the silkworm, whose cocoon is used for the production of silk. It was introduced into Europe as early as the 7th century A.D., together with the silkworm. One hundred years and more ago it was far more widely cultivated than it is today, now that silk has been replaced by other fibres. The white mulberry is a small tree growing to a height of 10 to 15 metres and developing a broad crown. The bark is grey-brown and furrowed with longitudinal ridges. The leaves are broadly ovate, often three lobed. The tiny flowers are borne in short dense spikes, usually monoeciously, rarely dioeciously. The milky-white loganberry-like fruit has a bland, sweetish taste and matures in June.

The white mulberry requires partial shade and warm climate, Europe’s wine-growing regions providing the best conditions for its growth. It is damaged by frost, but has good powers of regeneration by suckers. It is cultivated in parks as a specimen tree, and is also good in tree avenues, and for planting in hedges. At one time it was grown in gardens as a fruit tree. The related black mulberry (Mortis nigra L.), with dark red fruits, is a native of Iran and Afghanistan.

Leaves: Alternate, broadly ovate, 6—18 cm long, often three-lobed, lustrous green above, with roughly serrate margin. Flowers: Male and female in short dense spikes.

Fruit: A 1—2.5 cm long aggregate fruit comprising tightly packed fleshy white drupes.

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