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Morus alba - L.

Common Name White Mulberry, Common Mulberry,
Family Moraceae
USDA hardiness 4-10
Known Hazards One report suggests that the raw fruit contains hallucinogens[62]. This fruit is frequently eaten in various parts of the world, there are even some named varieties, and no such effects have been mentioned elsewhere, nor observed by the writer when he has eaten the fruit. Possibly the unripe fruit was being referred to in the report, though even this would be surprising[K].
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range E. Asia - central and northern China.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Morus alba White Mulberry, Common Mulberry,

Morus alba White Mulberry, Common Mulberry,


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Form: Rounded, Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Morus alba is a deciduous Tree growing to 18 m (59ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant). The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Inner bark  Leaves  Manna  Shoots
Edible Uses: Tea

Fruit - raw[2, 7, 158]. A sweet taste, but the fruit is usually insipid[3, 11]. It contains about 1.5% protein, 0.5% fat, 8% carbohydrate, 0.7% malic acid[179]. Fruits of the cultivar 'Pendulum' tried at Kew in July 1994 had a pleasant flavour[K]. A richer flavour develops if the fruit is dried, it can then be used as a raisin substitute. The fruit is up to 25mm long[200]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Per 100 g, the fruit is reported to contain 87.5 g water, 1.5 g protein, 0.49 g fat, 8.3 g carbohydrates, 1.4 g fiber, 0.9 g ash, 80 mg Ca, 40 mg P, 1.9 mg Fe, 174 IU vit. A, 9 ?g thiamine, 184 µg riboflavin, 0.8 mg nicotinic acid, and 13 mg ascorbic acid. Young leaves and shoots - cooked[105, 183]. A famine food, used when all else fails[177]. The leaf makes a good vegetable, it is rich in carotene and calcium[179]. Protein perparations from young mulberry leaves form an excellent supplement to protein-deficient diets[269]. The dry leaves contain 18 - 28.8% protein, 0.2 - 0.7% Magnesium, 0.8 - 13.6% soluble sugars, 0.6 - 1.4% phosphorus, 2 - 3.9% potassium, 1.4 - 2.4% calcium, 0.8 - 1.8% aluminium, 0.05 - 0.26% iron, 1.8 - 2.6% silica, and 0.3 - 0.56% sulphur[269]. The leaf also contains 10% tannin[179]. Inner bark - roasted and ground into a meal then used as a thickener in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread. A famine food, used when all else fails[179]. The tree is said to be a source of an edible manna[183]. Young shoots can be used as a tea substitute[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Fruit (Fresh weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 87.5%
  • Protein: 1.5g; Fat: 0.49g; Carbohydrate: 8.3g; Fibre: 1.4g; Ash: 0.9g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 80mg; Phosphorus: 40mg; Iron: 1.9mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 174mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0.8mg; B6: 0mg; C: 13mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

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Analgesic  Anthelmintic  Antiasthmatic  Antibacterial  Antirheumatic  Antitussive  Astringent  Diaphoretic  
Diuretic  Emollient  Expectorant  Hypoglycaemic  Hypotensive  Odontalgic  Ophthalmic  
Pectoral  Purgative  Sedative  Tonic  Urinary

The white 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]. 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]. The leaves are antibacterial, astringent, diaphoretic, hypoglycaemic, odontalgic and ophthalmic[176, 218, 238]. They are taken internally in the treatment of colds, influenza, eye infections and nosebleeds[176, 238]. An injected extract of the leaves can be used in the treatment of elephantiasis and purulent fistulae[176]. The leaves are collected after the first frosts of autumn and can be used fresh but are generally dried[238]. The stems are antirheumatic, antispasmodic, diuretic, hypotensive and pectoral[176, 218, 238]. They are used in the treatment of rheumatic pains and spasms, especially of the upper half of the body, high blood pressure[176]. 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, dizziness, tinnitus, insomnia due to anaemia, neurasthenia, hypertension, diabetes, premature greying of the hair and constipation in the elderly[176, 238]. The root bark is antiasthmatic, antitussive, diuretic, expectorant, hypotensive and sedative[176, 238]. It is used internally in the treatment of asthma, coughs, bronchitis, oedema, hypertension and diabetes[176, 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[240]. Extracts of the plant have antibacterial and fungicidal activity[218].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Biomass  Dye  Fibre  Fodder  Shelterbelt  Tannin  Wood

A fibre is obtained from the bark of one-year old stems, it is used in weaving clothes etc[7, 74, 266]. The stem bark is fibrous and is used in China and Europe for paper making[266, 269]. The twigs are used as binding material and for making baskets[269]. A brown dye is obtained from the trunk[178]. The leaves contain 10% tannin[179]. This tree can be grown as a part of a shelterbelt. The cultivar 'Tartarica' has been especially mentioned[200], it is very suitable for northern latitudes and is much used as a sheltebelt in Russia[269]. The wood of the mulberry is a potentially excellent source of ethanol, with yields of up to 6% from sawdust treated with acid and then given four days incubation[269]. Wood - light to moderately heavy, hard, durable, fine and close-grained, though it shows a tendency to warp. Due to its elasticity and flexibility when steamed, it is valued for making sports equipment such as tennis rackets and cricket bats, being considered as good as ash (Fraxinus excelsior)[238, 269]. It is also used for boat building, furniture, agricultural implements etc[145, 149, 158, 269]. It furnishes a medium grade fuel wood[269].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Contour hedgerow  Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Fodder: Bank  Fodder: Insect  Industrial Crop: Biomass  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop  Other Systems: Dyke-pond

Landscape Uses:Pest tolerant, Aggressive surface roots possible, Pollard. Succeeds in a variety of soils[269], though it prefers a warm well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position[1, 11]. Plants are fairly wind-resistant[200], though the branches are often killed back when growing in strong maritime exposure[K]. At least some cultivars are drought resistant, the form 'Tatarica' has been especially mentioned[183]. The white mulberry is occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit, there are a number of varieties[183] and sub-species varying greatly in the quality of their fruit. The form M. alba multicaulis. (Perretot.)Loud. (synonym M. multicaulis. Perretot.) has been specially mentioned for its fruit[105]. The cultivars 'Nana' and Fegyvernekiana' are dwarf forms only making shrub size[182]. The cultivar 'Pendulum' was seen growing at Kew in July 1994 with a heavy crop of tasty fruits, the first of which were just ripening[K]. 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]. This is a good tree for growing grapes into[20]. The grapes are difficult to pick but always seem to be healthier and free from fungal diseases[201]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features:Not North American native, Naturalizing, There are no flowers or blooms. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk [1-2].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Contour hedgerow  Alley cropping systems on the contour of slopes.
  • Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Simply managed rows of shrubs and trees.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Fodder: Insect  Plants grown for useful fodder insects.
  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.
  • Other Systems: Dyke-pond  Aquaforestry integrating, fish, livestock and crops.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant 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. Layering in autumn[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

TEMPERATE ASIA: China (central & north).

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Morus alba multicaulisWhite MulberryTree18.0 4-8  LMHSNM432
Morus australisKorean Mulberry, Aino MulberryTree7.5 6-9 FLMHSNM221
Morus bombycisKuwaTree8.0 5-9  LMHSNM221
Morus cathayanaHua SangTree15.0 5-9  LMHSNM20 
Morus macrouraHimalayan MulberryTree10.0 7-10  LMHSNM212
Morus mesozygiaAfrican mulberryTree30.0 10-12 FLMHNM234
Morus microphyllaTexas MulberryTree6.0 5-9  LMHSNM202
Morus mongolicaMongolian MulberryTree7.5 4-8  LMHSNM212
Morus nigraBlack MulberryTree10.0 5-10 SLMHSNM533
Morus rubraRed Mulberry, Common Mulberry, White MulberryTree15.0 4-9  LMHSNM322
Morus serrataHimalayan MulberryTree20.0 -  LMHSNM212
Morus speciesMulberryTree10.0 0-0 MLMHSNM404
Rubus chamaemorusCloudberryPerennial0.3 2-4  LMHNMWe412

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Dee Van Beek   Sun Mar 20 20:06:47 2005

We live in NW Washington State and are wondering where we might find either the Tahama white mulberry or the Hunza seedless or the Beautiful Day varieties. Can you help us with this matter. Thank you and I await your resonse. [email protected].

Michel H. Porcher   Wed Jun 16 00:57:53 2004

Latin and Worldwide Common Names From Porcher Michel H. et al. 1995 - 2020, Sorting Morus Names. Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database - A Work in Progress. Institute for Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia. http://gmr.landfood.unimelb.edu.au/Plantnames/Sorting/Morus.html (2004).

Link: Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database for Morus alba, Morus australis, Morus bombycis, Morus cathayana, Morus mongolica, Morus nigra, Morus rubra, Morus tiliaefolia

Explores the use of Morus alba leaves as a protein providing staple food.   Jul 10 2012 12:00AM

Perennial Staple Crops of the World

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