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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

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2 (botanically Morus; nat. ord. Moraceae), a genus of about ten species growing in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere and in the mountains of the tropics. They are deciduous trees or shrubs with alternate, toothed, often three-lobed leaves and unisexual flowers in catkin-like inflorescences.

The black mulberry (Moms nigra), a native of western Asia, spread westwards in cultivation at an early period; it was cultivated by the Greeks and Romans, and in northern Europe by the 9th and 10th centuries. Up to the 15th century it was extensively grown in Italy for rearing silkworms, but has since been superseded by M. alba. It is now mainly cultivated for its oblong purplish-black compound fruit - the so-called sorosis, formed from the whole female inflorescence in which the perianth leaves of the single flowers have become fleshy - which is wholesome and palatable if eaten fresh before acetous fermentation has set in. The mulberry succeeds as a standard in the warmer parts of England, especially in sheltered situations, but in the north of England and the less favoured parts of Scotland it requires the assistance of a wall. The standard trees require no other pruning or training than an occasional thinning out of the branches, and are generally planted on lawns, to prevent the fruit being damaged when it 2 Mulberry stands for murberry or morberry, i.e. morus and "berry," cf. Ger. maulbeere, O.H.G. mulberi, marberi. falls. The tree succeeds best in a rich, deep, and somewhat moist loam, but grows well in any good garden ground. It is usually propagated either by cuttings or layers, which latter, if made from the older branches of the tree, come sooner into bearing. Cuttings planted in the spring should consist of well-ripened shoots of the preceding year, with a joint of twoyear-old wood at their base, or if planted in autumn should have the shoots well matured, and furnished with a heel of two-year-old wood. The branches and even stout limbs are sometimes employed as cuttings instead of the younger shoots, especially when the object is to obtain a bearing tree quickly.

Mulberry (Morus nigra) Shoot bearing Fruit.

i, Catkin of male flowers: a nat. 3, Cluster of female flowers.

size. 4, Two female flowers. 2, A male flower.

The branch should be planted deeply in autumn in good soil, and if necessary supported in an upright position by a stake. The most common mode of propagation, however, is by layering the young branches. The mulberry may be grown in pots, and gently forwarded in an orchard house, and under these conditions the fruit acquires a richness of flavour unknown in the fruit ripened out of doors. If cultivated in this way it requires abundance of water while the fruit is swelling, and also frequent dressings of artificial fertilizers.

The white mulberry (M. alba), so called from its nearly white fruit, is the one mainly employed in sericulture. It is a native of China and has been cultivated from the earliest times in Asia and since the z 2th century in Europe, especially in the Mediterranean region. There are many varieties, among which the Philippine mulberry (var. multicaulis) is perhaps most highly esteemed. The Indian species, M. indica (not to be confounded with Morinda citrifolia, a rubiaceous tree, sometimes also called Indian mulberry), is also cultivated for the same purpose.

M. rubra, the North American red mulberry, is the largest of the genus, often reaching a height of 70 ft. It produces dark red berries much inferior in flavour, however, to those of M. nigra. Broussonetia papyrifera, a member of a closely allied genus, is the paper mulberry, a native of Burma, China and Polynesia, and widely cultivated in Japan, where the bark is used for paper-making. The Tapa-cloth of the South Sea Islands is also made from it. The plant is a shrub or small tree with large mulberry-like lobed or entire hairy leaves. Several forms are cultivated, differing chiefly in the shape of the leaves.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Mulberry'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica.​encyclopedias/​eng/​bri/​m/mulberry.html. 1910.