Morus, a genus of flowering plants in the family Moraceae, comprises
10–16 species of deciduous trees commonly known as mulberries,
growing wild and under cultivation in many temperate world regions.
The closely related genus
Broussonetia is also commonly known as
mulberry, notably the paper mulberry,
Mulberries are fast-growing when young, but soon become slow-growing
and rarely exceed 10–15 metres (30–50 ft) tall. The leaves
are alternately arranged, simple and often lobed and serrated on the
margin. Lobes are more common on juvenile shoots than on mature trees.
The trees can be monoecious or dioecious. The mulberry fruit is
a multiple fruit, approximately 2–3 cm
(3⁄4–1 1⁄4 in) long. Immature fruits are white, green,
or pale yellow. In most species the fruits turn pink and then red
while ripening, then dark purple or black, and have a sweet flavor
when fully ripe. The fruits of the white-fruited cultivar are white
when ripe; the fruit of this cultivar is also sweet, but has a very
bland flavor compared with darker varieties.
2 Distribution and cultivation
3.1 Nutritional profile
4 In culture
8 External links
The taxonomy of Morus is complex and disputed. Over 150 species names
have been published, and although differing sources may cite different
selections of accepted names, only 10–16 are generally cited as
being accepted by the vast majority of botanical authorities. Morus
classification is even further complicated by widespread
hybridisation, wherein the hybrids are fertile.
The following species are accepted by the Kew
Plant List as of August
Morus alba L. – White mulberry (China, Korea, Japan)
Morus australis Poir. – Chinese mulberry (China, Japan, Indian
Morus cathayana Hemsl. – China, Japan, Korea
Morus celtidifolia Kunth – (N + S America)
Morus indica - L. – India, Southeast Asia
Morus insignis - Bureau –
Central America and South America
Morus japonica Audib. – Japan
Morus liboensis S.S. Chang –
Guizhou Province in China
Morus macroura Miq. – Long mulberry (Tibet, Himalayas, Indochina)
Morus mesozygia Stapf – African mulberry (S and C Africa)
Morus mongolica (Bureau) C.K. Schneid. – China, Mongolia, Korea,
Morus nigra L. – Black mulberry (Iran)
Morus notabilis C.K. Schneid. –
Sichuan Provinces in China
Morus rubra L. – Red mulberry (E N America)
Morus serrata Roxb. – Tibet, Nepal, northwestern India
Morus trilobata (S.S. Chang) Z.Y. Cao –
Guizhou Province in China
Morus wittiorum Hand.-Mazz. – southern China
Distribution and cultivation
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Mulberry fruit in Libya
Mulberry in Southern Brazil: state of Paraná - locally known as
Black, red, and white mulberry are widespread in southern Europe, the
Middle East, northern Africa and Indian subcontinent, where the tree
and the fruit have names under regional dialects. Jams and sherbets
are often made from the fruit in this region. Black mulberry was
imported to Britain in the 17th century in the hope that it would be
useful in the cultivation of silkworms. It was much used in folk
medicine, especially in the treatment of ringworm. Mulberries are also
widespread in Greece, particularly in the Peloponnese, which in the
Middle Ages was known as Morea, deriving from the Greek word for the
tree (μουριά, mouria).
Mulberries can be grown from seed, and this is often advised as
seedling-grown trees are generally of better shape and health, but
they are most often planted from large cuttings which root readily.
The mulberry plants which are allowed to grow tall with a crown height
of 1.5 to 1.8 metres (5 to 6 ft) from ground level and a stem
girth of 10–13 cm (4–5 in). They are specially raised
with the help of well-grown saplings 8–10 months old of any of the
varieties recommended for rainfed areas like S-13 (for red loamy soil)
or S-34 (black cotton soil) which are tolerant to drought or
soil-moisture stress conditions. Usually, the plantation is raised and
in block formation with a spacing of 1.8 by 1.8 m (6 by
6 ft), or 2.4 by 2.4 m (8 by 8 ft), as plant to plant
and row to row distance. The plants are usually pruned once a year
during the monsoon season to a height of 1.5–1.8 m
(5–6 ft) and allowed to grow with a maximum of 8–10 shoots at
the crown. The leaves are harvested three or four times a year by a
leaf-picking method under rain-fed or semiarid conditions, depending
on the monsoon. The tree branches pruned during the fall season (after
the leaves have fallen) are cut and used to make durable baskets
supporting agriculture and animal husbandry.
Some North American cities have banned the planting of mulberries
because of the large amounts of pollen they produce, posing a
potential health hazard for some pollen allergy sufferers. In
actuality, only the male mulberry trees produce pollen; this
light-weight pollen can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, sometimes
triggering asthma. Conversely, female mulberry trees produce
all-female flowers, which draw pollen and dust from the air. Because
of this pollen-absorbing feature, all-female mulberry trees have an
OPALS allergy scale rating of just 1 (lowest level of allergy
potential), and some consider it "allergy-free".
Fortunately, mulberry tree scion wood can easily be grafted onto other
mulberry trees during the winter, when the tree is dormant. One common
scenario is converting a problematic male mulberry tree to an
allergy-free female tree, by grafting all-female mulberry tree scions
to a male mulberry that has been pruned back to the trunk. However,
any new growth from below the graft(s) must be removed, as they would
be from the original male mulberry tree.
The fruit of the white mulberry – an East Asian species extensively
naturalized in urban regions of eastern North America – has a
different flavor, sometimes characterized as refreshing and a little
tart, with a bit of gumminess to it and a hint of vanilla. In
North America, the white mulberry is considered an invasive exotic and
has taken over extensive tracts from native plant species, including
the red mulberry.
The ripe fruit is edible and is widely used in pies, tarts, wines,
cordials, and herbal teas. The fruit of the black mulberry (native to
southwest Asia) and the red mulberry (native to eastern North America)
have the strongest flavor, which has been likened to 'fireworks in the
The fruit and leaves are sold in various forms as nutritional
supplements. The mature plant contains significant amounts of
resveratrol, particularly in stem bark. Unripe fruit and green
parts of the plant have a white sap that may be toxic, stimulating, or
In a 100 g (3.5-oz) serving, raw mulberries provide 180 kJ
(43 kcal), 44% of the
Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C, and 14% of
the DV for iron; other nutrients are in insignificant quantity (see
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
180 kJ (43 kcal)
Vitamin A equiv.
Link to United States Department of Agriculture Database entry
μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
A silkworm, Bombyx mori, feeding on a mulberry tree
Mulberry leaves, particularly those of the white mulberry, are
ecologically important as the sole food source of the silkworm (Bombyx
mori, named after the mulberry genus Morus), the cocoon of which is
used to make silk. The wild silk moth also eats
Lepidoptera larvae—which include the common
emerald, lime hawk-moth, sycamore moth,, and fall webworm—also eat
Mulberry fruit color derives from anthocyanins, which are under basic
research for mechanisms of various diseases.
responsible for the attractive colors of fresh plant foods, including
orange, red, purple, black, and blue. These colors are water-soluble
and easily extractable, yielding natural food colorants. Due to a
growing demand for natural food colorants, their significance in the
food industry is increasing.
A cheap and industrially feasible method has been developed to extract
anthocyanins from mulberry fruit which could be used as a fabric
tanning agent or food colorant of high color value (above 100).
Scientists found that, of 31 Chinese mulberry cultivars tested, the
total anthocyanin yield varied from 148 to 2725 mg per liter of
fruit juice. All the sugars, acids, and vitamins of the fruit
remained intact in the residual juice after removal of the
anthocyanins, so the juice could be used to produce products such as
juice, wine, and sauce.
Anthocyanin content depends on climate and area of cultivation, and is
particularly high in sunny climates. This finding holds promise
for tropical countries that grow mulberry trees as part of the
practice of sericulture to profit from industrial anthocyanin
production through the recovery of anthocyanins from the mulberry
This offers a challenging task to the mulberry germplasm resources for
exploration and collection of fruit yielding mulberry species
their characterization, cataloging, and evaluation for anthocyanin
content by using traditional, as well as modern, means and
developing an information system about these cultivars or varieties
training and global coordination of genetic stocks
evolving suitable breeding strategies to improve the anthocyanin
content in potential breeds by collaboration with various research
stations in the field of sericulture, plant genetics, and breeding,
biotechnology and pharmacology
During the Angkorian age of the
Khmer Empire of Southeast Asia, monks
at Buddhist temples made paper from the bark of mulberry trees. The
paper was used to make books, known as kraing.
A mulberry tree in England
A Babylonian etiological myth, which
Ovid incorporated in his
Metamorphoses, attributes the reddish-purple color of the mulberry
fruits to the tragic deaths of the lovers
Pyramus and Thisbe. Meeting
under a mulberry tree (probably the native Morus nigra), Thisbe
commits suicide by sword after
Pyramus was killed by the lioness
because he believed that
Thisbe was eaten by her. Their splashed blood
stained the previously white fruit, and the gods forever changed the
mulberry's colour to honour their forbidden love.
The nursery rhyme "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" uses the tree
in the refrain, as do some contemporary American versions of the
nursery rhyme "Pop Goes the Weasel".
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh featured the mulberry tree in some of his paintings,
Tree (Mûrier, 1889, now in Pasadena's Norton Simon
Museum). He painted it after a stay at an asylum, and he considered it
a technical success.
Fossils of Morus are reported from the
Pliocene of the
Clusters (inflorescences) of unopened female flower buds
Mulberry flower clusters
Female flower clusters
Unripe white mulberries
Semi-ripe mulberries on a mulberry leaf
Tree by Vincent van Gogh, 1889
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Wikispecies has information related to Morus (Moraceae)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Morus.
Wikisource has the text of The New Student's Reference Work article
Flora of China: Morus
Flora of North America: Morus
Sorting Morus names (University of Melbourne)
Propagation (growing) by vegetative method
Propagation (growing) by seed method
photo of 300-year-old Japanese mulberry
Germplasm Resources Centre, Ministry of Textiles,
Government of India
Replant a mulberry tree: article from Times of India