Orange County Chapter CRFG

Sharing Information on Growing Edible Plants

In the Arboretum Today
by Alfredo Chiri

Black Mulberry-Morus nigra- Moraceae
Donated by : CSUF/Pat Bowen and planted in 1979
Common names: Black mulberry, Persian mulberry, Common mulberry

The Black or Persian mulberry is a fast growing, very productive deciduous tree that grows 20-25 feet high, spreading at least as wide. Leaves are toothed, dull green, making dense shade. It is not unusual for a mulberry tree to produce leaves of different shapes. As a rule, abnormal shaped leaves are produced in stem-shoots, sucker growth and vigorous young branches. The leaves are rather large and heart-shaped at the base. Mulberry trees flower in April and May. The fruit ripens from August to September, is extremely juicy and has a sub-acid, saccharine
taste.

Black Mulberry species have a milky juice throughout the tree which coagulates into a sort of rubber, and it is believed that this gives tenacity to the filaments spun by the silkworm. The cultivation of Black Mulberry trees to rear silkworms has been proven to be unsuccessful, whereas the White Mulberry is the species where the silkworm flourishes.

The Mulberry tree seems to be native to Asia Minor, Armenia and Persia where it grows wild. The Black Mulberry is known to have been cultivated in England as long ago as the sixteenth century, when the Romans brought it to Italy. 

It is believed that the name of the mulberry, Morus was derived from the word mora (delay) attributed to the belief that of all cultivated trees the mulberry is the last to bud after cold winter.

Mulberry trees like a warm, well drained, loamy soil. The mulberry can also be started from seeds if the seeds are sown in gentle heat or in the open. Layers made in the Autumn will root in twelve months. Cuttings of the young wood planted deeply will root slowly.

The White Mulberry (M. alba) a native to China, is the tree upon which the silkworm feeds.

The Red Mulberry (M.rubra) is a native of the United States of America. 

Mulberries are refreshing and have laxative properties. In the former days, they were made into various conserves and drinks. Sometimes they were used for mixing with cider during the fermentation to give a pleasant taste and deep red color., Now-a-days mulberries are used primarily for wine or jams and for preparation of a syrup employed
to flavor or color medicines.