White Mulberry

Morus alba

Silkworm Mulberry, Common Mulberry, Moerbei, Mulberry

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Morus alba is a deciduous tree species from the Moraceae family. It originates from Central China but has been introduced around the world. It is widely and commercially grown, the leaves provide food for silkworms used in commercial silk production. It has been naturalised in many locations and is considered a genetic threat in North America to the native Red Mulberry, Morus rubra, which it readily hybridises with. Leaves are large and alternately arranged, measuring up to 15cm in length, with serrated edges. Flowers are non-showy, coloured yellow-green or red-green, appearing as the leaves do. Leading onto attractive, sweet-tasting achene fruits, similar to a Blackberry, they measure 1-1.5cm in length and are coloured white-pink. They are said to taste blandly sweet compared to the more exciting Red and Black Mulberry fruits. This species is noted for its rapid pollen release and edible fruits, it is commonly known by many names including White Mulberry, Common Mulberry and Silkworm Mulberry. This tree produces white fruits that have been used in culinary and medicinal applications for decades. The fruits are not as sweet or juicy as those of the Black Mulberry Tree, Morus nigra. The forms of this medium-sized tree range from pyramidal to droopy and is thus widely used as an ornamental garden tree. This tree species has a rich history in the silk industry, it is aesthetically beautiful, edible and has many health benefits. Thus the White Mulberry tree is a desirable plant for any temperate or sub-tropical garden.
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Planning

Difficulty

Moderate

Flowering time

Summer, Spring

Fruiting time

Autumn

Harvesting

Harvest fruit fresh daily as soon as the entire berries are a deep, all over colour and easily removed from the stalk. You could shake the tree and try to catch the berries in a net underneath. The fruit fall as soon as fully ripe, it is best, therefore, to grow the tree in short grass to cushion the fall of the fruit, but to still make it possible to easily find and harvest.

Propagation

Cuttings

Half-ripe wood and mature wood cuttings should be buried to threequarters of their depth.

Seed

Sow seeds in winter; spacing them 4-6 m apart. Seeds germinate better after stratifying for 1-3 months before planting.

Special features

Attracts birds

The edible fruit attracts various birds, who then disperse a great amount of seed.

Drought resistant

Drought tolerant once established.

Attractive fruits

Special features

Origin

Central and eastern China.

Natural climate

Temperate, sub-tropical

Environment

Light

Full Sun

Soil moisture

Dry

Soil type

Clay, Loam, Sand, Chalk

Soil PH preference

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Frost hardiness

Hardy

Uses

Medicinal

The leaves, bark and fruits are used in Chinese medicine for coughs, colds, diabetes and constipation. It is also used to treat snakebites, among other illnesses across the world. There is a long history of medicinal use in Chinese medicine and all parts of this plant are used in some way or another.

Edible

Ripe fruits are used to make jams, jellies, and syrups. The leaves make a good vegetable, cooked or dried. The leaves are the preferred feedstock for silkworms and other livestock.

Personality

Family

Moraceae

Flower colour

Green

Scent

None

Problems

Larvae of Ascotis selenaria, Cacoecia micaceana, Diacrisia indica, D. obliqua, Metanstria hyrtaca defoliate the tree; larvae of Dichocrosis punctiferalis damage the fruit; mealybugs breed on the plant. Several fungal diseases attack the plant: heart rot, spongy rot, leaf spot, stem rot, powdery mildew, rust and stem canker

Companion plants

Under-plant with shade loving plants.
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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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