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Che or Chinese Mulberry (Cudrania tricuspidata)
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White Mulberry Info: Tips On Caring For White Mulberry Trees
Many people cringe at the mere mention of mulberry trees. This is because they’ve witnessed the mess of sidewalks stained by mulberry fruit, or mulberry fruit “gifts” left by birds. While mulberry trees are generally viewed as a nuisance, weedy tree, plant breeders and nurseries now offer several varieties that are fruitless, which make lovely additions to the landscape. This article will cover white mulberry trees. Continue reading for more information on white mulberry care.
White Mulberry Info
White mulberry trees (Morus alba) are native to China. They were originally brought to North America for silk production. White mulberry trees are the preferred food source of silkworms, so these trees were thought to be essential in producing silk outside of China. However, the bottom fell out of the silk industry in the United States before it even started. Startup costs proved much too high and the few fields of these mulberry trees were abandoned.
White mulberry trees were also imported by
immigrants from Asia as a medicinal plant. The edible leaves and berries were used to treat colds, sore throats, respiratory problems, eye problems and in continence. Birds also enjoyed these sweet berries and unintentionally planted more mulberry trees, which quickly adapted to their new location.
White mulberry trees are very fast growers that are not particular about soil type. They will grow in clay, loam or sandy soil, whether it be alkaline or acidic. They prefer full sun, but can grow in part shade. White mulberry cannot tolerate as much shade as the U.S native red mulberry though. Contrary to their name, the berries of white mulberry trees are not white; they start out a white to pale pink-red and mature to an almost black purple.
How to Grow a White Mulberry Tree
White mulberry trees are hardy in zones 3-9. The common species can grow 30-40 feet (9-12 m.) tall and wide, though hybrid cultivars are generally smaller. White mulberry trees are tolerant of black walnut toxins and salt.
They bear small, inconspicuous green-white flowers in spring. These trees are dioecious, meaning that one tree bears male flowers and another tree bears female flowers. The male trees do not produce fruit; only females do. Because of this, plant breeders have been able to produce fruitless cultivars of white mulberry trees that are not messy or weedy.
The most popular fruitless white mulberry is the Chaparral weeping mulberry. This variety has a weeping habit and grows only 10-15 feet (3-4.5 m.) tall and wide. Its cascading branches of glossy, deep green foliage make an excellent specimen plant for cottage or Japanese style gardens. In autumn, the foliage turns yellow. Once established, weeping mulberry trees are heat and drought tolerant.
Other fruitless cultivars of white mulberry trees are: Bellaire, Hempton, Stribling, and Urban.
Mulberry is any of several distinct small to medium-sized deciduous trees.
There are of 10–16 species of mulberry.
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.
The species vary greatly in longevity from 25 to more than 100 years.
Mulberry trees are fast-growing when young, but soon become slow-growing and rarely exceed 10–15 meters (30–50 ft) tall.
The leaves are alternately arranged, simple and often lobed and serrated on the margin. Mulberry leaves, particularly those of the White Mulberry, Morus alba, are important as food of the silkworm, the cocoon of which is used to make silk.
Mulberry trees are either dioecious or monoecious, and sometimes will change from one sex to another. The flowers are held on short, green, pendulous, nondescript catkins that appear in the axils of the current season’s growth and on spurs on older wood. They are wind pollinated and some cultivars will set fruit without any pollination.
The mulberry fruit is a multiple fruit, approximately 2–3 cm (0.8-1.2 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 mild flavor compared with darker varieties.
Because of their sweet flavor, impressive nutritional value and numerous health benefits, mulberries are gaining increased interest worldwide.
Mulberries are most commonly made into wine, fruit juice, tea, jam or canned foods, but can also be dried and consumed as a snack.
There are 43 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of mulberries.
This fruit is a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and iron and a good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, magnesium and potassium.
The health benefits of mulberries include improve blood sugar control, lower cholesterol, reduce cancer risk, improve blood circulation, cure anemia, better heart health, promote brain health, improve immunity, improve digestion, aid in weight loss, build bone tissues and boost the immune system.
Mulberry trees were well known in the ancient civilizations of the world.
Mulberries were popular with the ancient Greeks, and the fruit was dedicated to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.
The history of mulberries is connected to the growth of the silk industry. Mulberry leaves were used to fatten the silkworms in the Orient regions. The spread of mulberry trees across the world can, in a way, be attributed to the need of mulberry leaves for the silkworm industry.
They were also famous fruit trees, because of the delicious berry fruits that were abundantly produced by fast growing trees.
The first mulberry was planted in England in the 1500s.
General Oglethorpe, in 1733, imported 500 white mulberry trees to Fort Frederica in Georgia to encourage silk production at the English colony of Georgia.
Mulberry trees are also valued for their ornamental effects.
Vincent van Gogh featured the mulberry tree in some of his paintings, notably Mulberry Tree. He painted it after a stay at an asylum, and he considered it a technical success.
Mulberry facts for kids
Mulberry (Morus) is a genus of 10–16 species of trees. They are native to warm regions of Asia, Africa and the Americas, with most of the species native to Asia.
Mulberries are fast-growing when young, but soon become slow-growing and rarely grow over 10-15 meters tall. The leaves are simple, often lobed, and ridged. The fruit grows in bunches, 2-3 centimeters long, is red to dark purple in color, edible, and sweet with a good flavor in several species.
The fruit is used in pies, tarts, and wines. The fruit of the Black Mulberry, native to southwest Asia, and the Red Mulberry, native to eastern North America, have the strongest flavor. The fruit of the White Mulberry, an east Asian species, has a very weak flavor.
Mulberries can be grown from seeds, and this is the best idea as seedling-grown trees are generally healthier. However, they are most often planted from large pieces cut from other Mulberry trees, which easily take root.
Mulberry leaves, particularly those of the White Mulberry, Morus alba, are important as food of the silkworm, the cocoon of which is used to make silk. Morus alba is also notable for the rapid release of its pollen, which is launched at over half the speed of sound. “This is the fastest motion yet observed in biology, and approaches the theoretical physical limits for movements in plants.”
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 mouth’.
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 mildly hallucinogenic.
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 mulberry. Other Lepidoptera larvae—which include the common emerald, lime hawk-moth, sycamore moth, and fall webworm—also eat the plant.
Mulberry fruit color derives from anthocyanins, which are under basic research for mechanisms of various diseases. Anthocyanins are 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 fruit.
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 biotechnology tools
- 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 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 featured the mulberry tree in some of his paintings, notably Mulberry 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.
Images for kids
Mulberry fruit in Libya
A mulberry tree in England
Clusters (inflorescences) of unopened female flower buds
Morus nigra male flowers
Unripe white mulberries
Female flower clusters
Mulberry Tree Pictures welcome. In the Mulberry Tree Photo Gallery you will find lots of nice pictures of mulberry trees, weeping mulberry and the fruit of the mulberry tree.
Below the Mulberry Photo section you will find a lot of wonderful facts on mulberry trees, including information about the mulberry tree species, planting information, and much more.
This is valuable and useful information that can help you to learn more about the mulberry tree.
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Mulberry Tree Types: Different Types of Mulberry Trees
- African Mulberry Tree, Morus Mesozygia, native to south and central Africa
- Chinese Mulberry Tree, Morus australis, native to south east Asia
- Red Mulberry Tree, Morus Rubra, native to North America
- East Asian White Mulberry Tree, Morus Alba
- Black Mulberry Tree, Morus Nigra, native to south west Asia, American Mulberry,
- Texas Mulberry Tree, Morus Microphylla, native to USA and Mexico
- Himalayan Mulberry Tree, Morus Macroura – can bear fruit for several hundred years
- Paper Mulberry Tree, Broussonetia papyrifera
- Weeping Mulberry Tree, Morus alba,“Pendula”, White Mulberry
- White Mulberry Tree, Morus Alba, native to East Asia
Mulberry Tree: More Names
Chinese White Mulberry Tree, American Mulberry Tree, Common Mulberry, Russian Mulberry Tree, Silk Worm Mulberry, Chi Sang, Moral Blanco
Mulberry Tree, Facts and Info on Mulberry Trees
Here is some detailed information on mulberry trees.
Morus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Moraceae. The 10 to 16 species of deciduous trees it contains are commonly known as Mulberries. They are native to warm temperate and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, with the majority of the species native to Asia.
The closely related genus Broussonetia is also commonly known as mulberry, notably the Paper Mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera.
Mulberries are swift-growing when young, but soon become slow-growing and rarely exceed 10 to 15 m (33 to 49 ft) tall. The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, often lobed, more often lobed on juvenile shoots than on mature trees, and serrated on the margin.
Mulberry fruits are tender and juicy and resemble blackberries. The fruit is a multiple fruit, 2 to 3 cm (0.79 to 1.2 in) long. The fruits when immature are white or green to pale yellow with pink edges. In most species the fruits are red when they are ripening, turning dark purple to black and have a sweet flavor. The fruits of the white-fruited cultivar of the white mulberry are green when young and white when ripe; the fruit in this cultivar is also sweet but has a very mild flavor compared with the darker variety.
The ripe fruit is edible and is widely used in pies, tarts, wines, cordials and tea. The fruit of the black mulberry, native to southwest Asia, and the red mulberry, native to eastern North America, have the strongest flavor. The fruit of the white mulberry, an east Asian species which is extensively naturalized in urban regions of eastern North America, has a different flavor, sometimes characterized as insipid. The mature plant contains significant amounts of resveratrol, particularly in stem bark. The fruit and leaves are sold in various forms as nutritional supplements. Unripe fruit and green parts of the plant have a white sap that is intoxicating and mildly hallucinogenic.
Black, red, and white mulberry are widespread in Northern India, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan, where the tree and the fruit are known by the Persian-derived names toot (mulberry) or shahtoot (King’s or “superior” mulberry). 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.
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 pupa/cocoon of which is used to make silk. Other Lepidoptera larvae also sometimes feed on the plant including common emerald, lime hawk-moth, and the sycamore.
Mulberry: Trivia, Reference, Notes about Mulberry Trees
Mulberry Trees take at least 10 years to produce any mulberries so if you decide to grow a mulberry tree for the fruit you will have to be very patient!.
Mulberry fruit comes in white mulberry, black and red/burgundy. The white mulberry leaves are fed to silkworms which in turn produce a fine silk thread. Birds and humans also like to eat the ripe mulberry fruit.
White Mulberry scientific name is Morus alba L., Black Mulberry M. nigra L. and, the American Mulberry, Red Mulberry M. rubra L.
Mulberry tree is classified as a deciduous tree, because it sheds it’s leaves and folige in the fall season, dry season or at the end of it’s the growing season. Deciduous trees lose their leaves annually, the opposed to evergreen trees that keep their green leaves year round.
The MulberryTree makes an attractive tree to landscape with either, as a focal point or in a garden bed. Very popular with adults and children a like as it bears sweet tasty fruit, easy to reach and pick while still a small young tree.
Mulberry Tree History
Mulberry tree leaves are the primary source of food in the growth of silk worms and their production of silk. Chinese have been harvesting silk for over 5000 years. Learn more about the role of the mullberry leaf in silk production – follow to the Youtube video Silk Worm and Mulberry Tree Leaves
Mulberry tree in the pioneer settler days of the 1800’s, was grown and harvested for the mulberry’s sweet fruit. Excellent to eat on their own or made into a Mulberry jam for the winter months.
Planting berry trees like elderberry, mulberry and holly will attract song birds to your garden. These trees will provide enticing food choices and shelter to build their nests.
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I’m often asked to identify “that tree that has lots of blackberries hanging from it!”. Most often it is a white mulberry, Morus alba.
The mulberry was originally imported from China in the 1600’s to feed silkworms in an effort to start the silk industry in the Americas. Silkworms wouldn’t grow here – but the mulberry tree certainly does. It is generally considered a weed tree because of the mess birds make after eating the fruit. Buy a cover for all your vehicles when you plant mulberry seedlings!
The wild fruit is edible by humans but in my opinion is a poor substitute for a July-ripe blackberry. The fruit of cultivated varieties is much sweeter.
The red mulberry, Morus rubra, is less common but still has blackberry-like fruit and leaves that can be lobed or unlobed..
You can usually tell them apart by putting the edge of a leaf in your mouth: the leaf of red mulberry is fuzzy underneath while the underside of a white mulberry is smooth.
To confuse things even further, paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera, has leaves darn similar to the trees above but the fruit is more of an orange, spiky ball.
If you are interested in identifying any of these trees, this publication from Purdue lays it all out.
white mulberry fruit
white mulberry leaves (photo courtesy of Amy Halpern)
paper mulberry (photo courtesy of Charles Lancaster)
Tags For This Article: mulberry identification
If you are looking for a large-growing plant that produces an abundance of sweet-tart berries without nasty thorns, then a mulberry tree ticks the box. Depending on the type, fruits up to 1.5 inches long, prized by wildlife and humans, cover the tree in springtime through summer. One mature tree produces enough berries for your family and sharing with friends.
There are three types of mulberry trees cultivated in the U.S. Each has similar growth requirements and habit, with the main difference being fruit size, taste, and tree size.
All mulberries are deciduous and fast-growing and flowers are nondescript catkins that produce the tasty berries. In fact, you might not even notice the catkins until they start developing color as the berry goes through its ripening stage.
Native to the U.S., red mulberry (Morus rubra), also called American mulberry, averages around 40-feet tall and wide at maturity and has a life span of approximately 75 years. The tree is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. Of the three cultivated types, red mulberries produce the largest leaves, with toothed, heart-shaped foliage averaging 5-inches long. Flowering occurs in late spring followed by red to deep blue-black fruits about 1-inch long with a sweet and tart flavor. Trees can have both male and female flowers for pollination.
Producing what many consider the best tasting fruits, black mulberries (Morus nigra) are Asian natives and hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9. The self-fertile tree reaches up to 30-feet tall and wide at maturity and if left untrained, typically grows as a large bush. Very long-lived and producing fruits for over a hundred years, the black berries are the largest of the three types growing up to 1.5-inches long with a sweet-tart taste. As with all mulberries, the fruits don’t ripen at once and continue ripening over an extended period that can last several months. Foliage resembles the red mulberry but smaller.
An Asian native, white mulberries (Morus alba) have the highest tolerance to cold weather of the three types and are hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. It is a large tree at maturity, growing over 50-feet tall and wide. White mulberry trees bloom and produce fruits earlier than the other two types, starting the flowering process in early spring. The foliage of this specific mulberry is the primary diet for silkworms used to manufacture silk. This variety is thought by many to be the least tasty of the three types because the berries lack tartness. The fruits are the smallest, with colors ranging from white, pink, blackish, and purple. Foliage is large, glossy green and deeply lobed whereas the foliage on the red and black mulberries has no gloss and is dull green.
Unlike many other types of fruit trees, mulberry trees don’t require a lot of fussing to thrive. Once they establish themselves in the landscape, you can almost forget about them and they will quickly achieve their mature size. Keep in mind that the soft berries can create a purple mess, so situate the tree away from walkways and in an out-of-the-way location.
Landscape Location and Use
For the best growth and performance, plant the fruit tree in a location that receives full-sun or partial shade. Consider the tree’s mature height and width when selecting a permanent location and give it room to spread, both in width and in height.
Due to the tree’s large size, mulberries make great shade trees. They also work well used in native and wildlife gardens, and the tree has a good resistance to wind, making it a useful windbreak.
Mulberry trees tolerate a wide range of soil types as long as they drain well. They even grow well in sandy soils that lack any nutrients. However, if your soil is too sandy and doesn’t retain moisture, you can amend the planting site with compost to help retain moisture while the root system establishes itself.
Newly planted mulberry trees require weekly water applications for approximately six to eight weeks after planting while the tree’s root system establishes itself. Once established, the tree is tolerant to drought conditions and monthly water applications are sufficient.
Applications of fertilizer aren’t required for the mulberry tree to achieve healthy growth. However, an annual application of a general-purpose blend like a 10-10-10 will give the tree a needed boost, especially if the tree suffered damage or seems like it’s experiencing stunted growth. Spread the product under the canopy following label directions on amounts, and don’t butt the fertilizer against the tree’s trunk. Water the fertilizer into the soil after applying.
Mulberry Tree Maintenance
Mature mulberrys are low-maintenance trees that require little care once established and mature and suffer few problems grown in the preferred conditions. They are great choices for lazy gardeners who want a tree they can basically plant and forget.
Unless you are growing the mulberry as a large shrub, the main portion of pruning takes place while the tree is young to create a strong structure. Prune away extra branches to create one main trunk. Trim off branches to create a strong structure for the canopy, leaving five to seven main branches that are open and not crossing. The best time to prune the mulberry is when the tree is in its deciduous state.
Once the mulberry matures, it rarely requires pruning and any cuts are slow to heal as the tree bleeds. However, gardeners may select trimming to control the tree’s size, though never prune back more than one-third of the tree’s canopy or it might not recover. Trim off any dead or crossing branches any time throughout the year. The pruned branches exude a milky sap that causes an allergic reaction for some people, so wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt to protect your skin.
Pests and Diseases
Pests or diseases rarely bother mulberry trees. The tree can develop root rot if planted in a site that retains water and doesn’t drain well. Therefore, it’s important to plant the tree in soil that drains. Whiteflies can be a problem, but rarely require control, which is difficult due to the tree’s large size. If the pest infestation is heavy, control by blasting them off the tree with a strong stream of water.
Because the mulberry fruits are soft and easily damaged, harvest the berries with care, trying not to smash them. For this reason, the fresh berries do not have a long shelf-life. Fresh-picked mulberries remain good for two to three days stored in the refrigerator.
Once ripe, mulberries easily fall from the tree and before you know it, you’ll have the ripe berries covering the ground underneath the tree. You can harvest the berries by plucking them from the tree one-by-one, remembering the fruit will stain your fingers purple. To gather a large supply at once, spread a tarp or sheet under the tree and shake the branches allowing the fresh berries to land on the tarp.
Locating a Mulberry Tree
In some locations mulberry trees have a tendency to become invasive, so you might not find a tree at standard nurseries. You will have your best chance of locating a tree at native plant nurseries. If that doesn’t work, contact your local chapter of the Native Plant Society and they can put you onto a local grower that has mulberry trees in stock. Since the tree grows so fast and can start producing fruit while still young, you will more than likely locate mulberry trees that are around one year-old.
Some mail order plant dealers also sell the tree in its small form and it will arrive while still in its deciduous state. However, the bonus to selecting a tree locally is that you can inspect the tree before purchasing. Look for healthy trees that do not look to have any pest or disease problems and make sure it’s not root bound in the container. Root bound plants grown too long in their containers sometimes have growth problems once planted in the ground.
Enjoy Your Bountiful Berries
Mulberry trees not only make handsome specimens that offer shade and fruit, but your local bird and wildlife population will love you as they gobble up the extra and unused berries. Once you harvest your personal bounty of juicy fruits, eat them fresh or use them to make pies, beverages including wine, jams, jellies and desserts.