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White Mulberry

Latin: Morus alba

Family: Moracaceae

About - White Mulberry is a tree brought to North American from China in the early 1800s. It was promoted in some southern states as a food source for the silkworm, a planned new industry in North America. Unfortunately, by the mid 1800s, silk production was replaced by the much cheaper cotton. The tree is considered invasive as it hybridizes easily with the native Red Mulberry.

 

Description - White Mulberry is a fast-growing tree which grows to a height of 10-20 m. It has a relatively short lifespan and is also known for its rapid release of pollen, which is at over half the speed of sound. The trees are generally deciduous, but in the tropics can be evergreen.

 

Leaf - young leaves can be as large at 30 cm, deeply lobed, with rounded lobes that look like a glove. Leaves on mature trees are 5-15 cm and unlobed. They are heart shaped at the base, taper to a point at the tip, and are serrated at the margins.

 

Flower - are single-sex catkins. Male catkins are 2 - 3.5 cm long and female catkins are 1 - 2 cm long. Male and female flowers are usually on separate trees, although they can be on the same tree.

 

Fruit - is 1 - 1.5 cm long, in the wild a deep purple, when cultivated varies from white to pink. Sweet, but bland in taste, unlike the Red and Black Mulberry which has a more intense taste.

Wildlife Value - leaves are used as animal feed in dry areas where ground vegetation is scarce. Fruit is eaten by birds and small mammals.

 

Wood - heart wood is used for furniture.

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