Conservatoire Botanique National Méditerranéen de Porquerolles - France


BOTANICAL SPECIES: Morus alba L.; Morus nigra L.; Morus rubra L.; Morus multicaulis Loud; Morus kagayamae Koidz. The mulberry tree is used by man since a very long time. However, it is not very well known.


HABITAT (country of origin)

Morus alba L. comes from China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Birmania. It has been widely cultivated in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries for silkworms. It is still cultivated in China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Morus nigra L. comes from North Iran, Turkey, Syria, Arabia, south of the Asian part of Russia.

It is moreover cultivated in Europe, USA, Australia, south of Asian Russia and India.

Morus rubra L. comes from North America.

Morus multicaulis Loud comes from China. It is moreover cultivated in south of Asian part of Russia, Europe, Far East and India.

Morus kagayamae Koidz comes from Japan. It is also cultivated in Europe.

Mulberry trees are able to grow in very poor soils. Soils may be calcareous or siliceous, it has no importance. Resistance of winter frost depends on the cultivar. Salty soils may be avoided.




In Middle East. Morus alba L. but mainly Morus nigra L. are cultivated fro fruit. In Lebanon, fruit is eaten fresh or transformed into syrup or juice. It is also used to flavour ice creams, giving them a beautiful violet colour. In Europe, Morus nigra L: is mainly cultivated, because it is more sweet than Morus alba L. and less acid.In France, during 19th century, farmers planted Morus nigra L. near the hen-houses to feed the poultry. In centre Italy and Sicily, Morus nigra is still cultivated on a small scale for local consumption. In USA, nursery men have obtained interesting cultivars of Morus rubra.

For fruit crops, the more interesting cultivars are:

+ Morus alba L.:

- Var pendula Dippel (black fruit)

- Cv "Tut Badena" (white fruit)

- Var aureifolia Tsen (white fruit)

- Cv "Gamette hative" (black fruit)

- Var italica Spach (black fruit)

- Var moretti Seringe (black fruit)

- Var romana Loddige (black fruit)


+ Morus nigra L.:

- CV "Black English"

- CV "Chirtout"

- CV "Wellington Mulberry"


+ Morus rubra L.:

- CV "Hicks Fancy"

- CV "Illinois Everbearing"

- CV "Towsend"


+ Morus multicaulis Loud.:

- CV "California giant"

- CV "Georgeous"

- CV "Large black"

- CV "Queensland black"

- Var planifolia Seringe.


+ Morus kagayamae Koidz.:

one cultivar only - No name.



Morus alba L.:

Quick growing, reaching sometimes 20m from the soil. The trunk is light grey. The shape of the branches (upright, weepy...) depends on the cultivars.

Morus nigra L.:

Slow growing, reaching sometimes 15 m from the soil. The trunk is dark grey.

Morus rubra L.:

Quick growing, reaching sometimes 15 m from the soil. The trunk is grey-brown.

Morus multicaulis Loud.:

Very quick growing - makes several trunks - can reach 5 or 6m from the soil. The trunk is greenish-grey.

Morus kagayamae Koidz:

Quick growing, but reaches no more than 6m from the soil. The trunk is grey.



For each species, the form of the leaves depends on the cultivar. Mulberry trees are deciduous.

Morus alba L.:

Polymorphism is very important - leaves are thin, bright and light green.

Morus nigra L.:

Leaves are thick, rough and dark green.

Morus rubra L.:

Leaves are thin, green and cordate.

Morus multicaulis Loud:

Leaves are oval-elliptic, often not symmetrical, light green.

Morus kagayamae Koidz:

Leaves are oval, often lanceolate, and deep green.



The fruit is a small berry (4-5 g max.). The colour depends on the cultivar.

Morus alba L.:

Some cultivar have white fruits, other ones have black fruits.

Morus nigra L.:

Black fruits only.

Morus rubra L. and Morus multicaulis Loud:

Some cultivars have black fruits, some others have deep red fruits when ripen.

Morus kagayamae Koidz :

Black fruits only.



The fruits of mulberry trees can be eaten for dessert. Excellent juice and syrups. Most interesting cultivars are these who give black fruits. They are full aromatic, and have an exceptional colouring power, especially for jam and ice cream. Fruits, leaves, roots of mulberry trees may have medical uses, but this have to be more studied.