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Morus nigra - L.                
                 
Common Name Black Mulberry
Family Moraceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Original habitat is obscure.
Range W. Asia?
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Morus nigra is a deciduous Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant)The plant is self-fertile.


USDA hardiness zone : 5-9


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Morus nigra Black Mulberry


Morus nigra Black Mulberry
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Sten
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Canopy; Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw, cooked or used in preserves[1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 183]. A delicious slightly acid flavour, it makes an excellent dessert fruit and can be eaten in quantity[K]. The fruit is juicy and refreshing, though it must be used as soon as it is ripe (from mid-August to September) otherwise it will start to rot[200]. The fruit falls from the tree as soon as it is 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 find and harvest[K]. The fruit can also be dried and ground into a powder[183]. The fruit is up to 25mm in diameter[200, 227].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthelmintic;  Astringent;  Homeopathy;  Hypoglycaemic;  Laxative;  Odontalgic;  Purgative.

The mulberry has a long history of medicinal use in Chinese medicine, almost all parts of the plant are used in one way or another[238]. The white mulberry (M. alba) is normally used, but this species has the same properties[238]. Recent research has shown improvements in elephantiasis when treated with leaf extract injections and in tetanus following oral doses of the sap mixed with sugar[238]. Analgesic, emollient, sedative[7, 176]. The leaves are antibacterial, astringent, diaphoretic, hypoglycaemic, odontalgic and ophthalmic[218, 238]. They are taken internally in the treatment of colds, influenza, eye infections and nosebleeds[238]. The leaves are collected after the first frosts of autumn and can be used fresh but are generally dried[238]. The stems are antirheumatic, diuretic, hypotensive and pectoral[218, 238]. A tincture of the bark is used to relieve toothache[7]. The branches are harvested in late spring or early summer and are dried for later use[238]. The fruit has a tonic effect on kidney energy[218, 238]. It is used in the treatment of urinary incontinence, tinnitus, premature greying of the hair and constipation in the elderly[238]. Its main use in herbal medicine is as a colouring and flavouring in other medicines[4]. The root bark is antitussive, diuretic, expectorant and hypotensive[238]. It is used internally in the treatment of asthma, coughs, bronchitis, oedema, hypertension and diabetes[238]. The roots are harvested in the winter and dried for later use[238]. The bark is anthelmintic and purgative, it is used to expel tape worms[4, 240]. Extracts of the plant have antibacterial and fungicidal activity[218]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves[9]. It is used in the treatment of diabetes[9].
Other Uses
Dye;  Fibre;  Wood.

A fibre used in weaving is obtained from the bark[7]. A red-violet to dark purple dye is obtained from the fruit[168]. A yellow-green dye is obtained from the leaves[168]. Wood - used in joinery[100].
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a warm moist but well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered sunny position[1, 11]. Prefers a light soil[37]. Plants are very tolerant of atmospheric pollution[4]. Trees are hardy as far north as southern Sweden[4]. A slow growing[200] but very ornamental tree[1], the mulberry is sometimes cultivated in gardens for its delicious edible fruit[183]. The tree is not grown on a commercial scale because the fruit is too soft and easily damaged to allow it to be transported to market, and is therefore best eaten straight from the tree. There are some named varieties[183]. The mulberry takes many years to settle down and produce good crops of fruit, about 15 years being the norm[4]. Trees fruit well in southern and south-western Britain[59, 200] but they require the protection of a wall further north if the fruit is to ripen[200]. This is a good tree for growing grapes into[20]. It means that the grapes are difficult to pick, but they always seem to be healthier and free from fungal diseases[201]. Plants are late coming into leaf and also lose their leaves at the first autumn frosts though the tree in leaf casts quite a dense shade[200]. Mulberries have brittle roots and so need to be handled with care when planting them out[238]. Any pruning should only be carried out in the winter when the plant is fully dormant because mulberries bleed badly when cut[238]. Ideally prune only badly placed branches and dead wood[238]. Once considered to be a very long-lived tree, doubts are now being cast on this assumption, it is probably fairly short-lived[11]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
The seed germinates best if given 2 - 3 months cold stratification[80, 98]. Sow the seed as soon as it is ripe if possible, otherwise in February in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in the first spring, though it sometimes takes another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Plant out in spring. A good percentage take, though they sometimes fail to thrive[78, 113]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, 25 - 30cm with a heel of 2 year old wood, autumn or early spring in a cold frame or a shady bed outside[78, 113,200]. Bury the cuttings to threequarters of their depth. It is said that cuttings of older wood up to 2.5 metres long can be readily made to strike[4]. The cuttings are taken in February and planted 30cm deep in a shady sheltered position outdoors. The stem is wrapped in moss to prevent water loss by transpiration, with only the top few buds not being covered[4]. Layering in autumn[200].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
11200266
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[3]Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit.
A very readable book with information on about 100 species that can be grown in Britain (some in greenhouses) and details on how to grow and use them.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[37]Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant.
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
[59]Thurston. Trees and Shrubs in Cornwall.
Trees and shrubs that succeed in Cornwall based on the authors own observations. Good but rather dated.
[78]Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
[80]McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed.
Does not deal with many species but it is very comprehensive on those that it does cover. Not for casual reading.
[98]Gordon. A. G. and Rowe. D. C. f. Seed Manual for Ornamental Trees and Shrubs.
Very comprehensive guide to growing trees and shrubs from seed. Not for the casual reader.
[100]Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
[113]Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[176]Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas.
An excellent Chinese herbal giving information on over 500 species. Rather technical and probably best suited to the more accomplished user of herbs.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[227]Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas
A readable guide to the area, it contains descriptions of the plants and their habitats with quite a bit of information on plant uses.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[240]Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Philip B. hunt Sat Nov 3 2007
I need to know whether Morus nigra was introduced after or before the dissolution of the Monasteries. A number of scources give the introduction date as 1548. I take the view that if this was recorded as the date of introduction from China it is unlikely that it would have been grown in Monastery gardens before this date as it would have been well recorded and well known. I would be most grateful for views.
Elizabeth H.
mrs mulberry Sat Dec 15 2007
As far as I understand it, morus nigra was introduced to the UK by King James I. The original tree planted is Morus nigra 'Charlton House' where it was planted in the park of the same name. King James ordered that mulberries should be planted everywhere, it is said, in error, because he thought that we could start a silk industry with silkworms. However, again, this is only hearsay and you need to double check, he should have planted morus alba, as these are the ones the silkworms breed on, not morus nigra.
Elizabeth H.
Erik tettelaar Sat Feb 28 2009
please can you advise about the depth and spread of the roots of morus nigra. we have an established tree with one of the roots unlifting out tarmac drive. We need to retarmac the drive. Can we save the tree if we were to cut out that root? Or is it best to dig out the tree and roots together before we retarmac the drive. Please advise Many thanks.
Elizabeth H.
J Cartwright Sun Apr 5 2009
What is it's biodiversity rating for hosting other life?
Antonius S.
Aug 10 2010 12:00AM
for those interested in curing cancer - black mulberry has very high dosage of antioxidants. These in turn help cure the cancer. Forgot how exactly. The idea with curing the cancer (any form) is to cut off acidic food intake (milk, meat, cheese, eggs, sweets, honey, coffee, smoking, sedentarism) and take up a high dosage of antioxidants (or anything that makes the body of basic chemical character). For more intel (as this information is unfortunately available only in Romanian) contact me at joinantonius at(no spam please) gmail dot com
Lucy W.
Feb 16 2011 12:00AM
I love this tree. Ours in Manchester, UK grows wonderfully and produces a good crop despite being up north and not being in full sun. I have found it immensely difficult to propagate from cuttings though. I have had about 1 in 50 take.
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