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Morus Alba, White Mulberry


The white mulberry is cultivated for its edible fruit. Once established trees can be propagated from cuttings.

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.

A fibre is obtained from the bark of one-year old stems, it is used in weaving. The stem bark is fibrous and is used in China and Europe for paper making.

The twigs are used as binding material and for making baskets.

A brown dye is obtained from the trunk. The leaves contain 10% tannin.

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.

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). It is also used for boat building, furniture, agricultural implements etc. It furnishes a medium grade fuel wood.

This is a good tree for growing grapes into. The grapes are difficult to pick but always seem to be healthier and free from fungal diseases.

Succeeds in a variety of soils, though it prefers a warm well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position. Plants are fairly wind-resistant, though the branches are often killed back when growing in strong maritime exposure.

The seed germinates best if given 2 - 3 months cold stratification. Sow the seed in Autumn, or 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.

Mulberries have brittle roots and so need to be handled with care when planting them out. Any pruning should only be carried out in the winter when the plant is fully dormant because mulberries bleed badly when cut. Ideally prune only badly placed branches and dead wood.

 Edible uses

Fruit - raw. A sweet taste, but the fruit is usually insipid. It contains about 1.5% protein, 0.5% fat, 8% carbohydrate, 0.7% malic acid. 
A richer flavour develops if the fruit is dried, it can then be used as a raisin substitute.
Young leaves and shoots - cooked. A famine food, used when all else fails. The leaf makes a good vegetable, it is rich in carotene and calcium. Protein preparations from young mulberry leaves form an excellent supplement to protein-deficient diets.
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. The tree is said to be a source of an edible manna.
Young shoots can be used as a tea substitute.


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