Mulberry

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Mulberry

Morus or Mulberry is a genus of 10–16 species of deciduous trees native to warm, temperate, and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, with the majority of the species native to Asia.

The closely related genus Broussonetia is also commonly known as mulberry, notably the Paper Mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera.

Mulberries are fast-growing when young, but soon become slow-growing and rarely exceed 10-15 metres (33-49 ft) tall. The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, often lobed, more often lobed on juvenile shoots than on mature trees, and serrated on the margin.

The fruit is a multiple fruit, 2-3 centimetres (0.8-1.2 in) long. The fruits when immature are white or green to pale yellow with pink edges. In most species the fruits are red when they are ripening. A fully ripened mulberry in these species is dark purple to black, edible, and sweet with a good flavour in several species. The fruits of the white-fruited cultivar of the White Mulberry on the other hand are green when unripe and white when ripe; the fruit in this cultivar is sweet, and has a very mild flavour compared with the dark fruits.

Uses

The ripe fruit is edible and is widely used in pies, tarts, wines and cordials. The fruit of the black mulberry, native to southwest Asia, and the red mulberry, native to eastern North America, have the strongest flavour. The fruit of the white mulberry, an east Asian species which is extensively naturalised in urban regions of eastern North America, has a different flavour, sometimes characterised as insipid. The mature fruit contains significant amounts of resveratrol, particularly the skin. The fruit and leaves are sold in various forms as nutritional supplements.

Unripe fruit and green parts of the plant have a white sap that is intoxicating and mildly hallucinogenic.

Black, red and white mulberry are widespread in Northern India, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, where the tree and the fruit are known by the Persian-derived names toot (mulberry) or shahtoot (King's or "superior" mulberry). Jams and sherbets are often made from the fruit in this region. Black mulberry was imported to Britain in the 17th century in the hope that it would be useful in the cultivation of silkworms. It was much used in folk medicine, especially in the treatment of ringworm.


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