Monday, 28 January 2013

Mulberry (Morus alba)

Commonly known as the White Mulberry or Mulberry, this tree is native to China. 

The Mulberry is a tall tree which can reach over 20m but often pruned to a low-growing bush when cultivated. This is to facilitate harvesting of fruits or leaves. The tree has a pyramidal to drooping form. The simple, alternate leaves are light green in colour and have variable form, even on the same tree. Some leaves are unlobed while some may be palmate. The mulberry tree is deciduous in temperate and sub-tropical climates but evergreen in tropical upland conditions.

Flowers are dioecious but may also be monoecious, sometimes changing from one sex to another. They are held on short, green pendulous catkins and small and greenish in colour. After pollination, the flowers will transform into a berry-like, collective fruit. 

The fruit are drupelets formed by individual flowers on the catkin that combine to form a sorosis. The mulberry fruit is commonly black but can vary from white to light purple. The white in the plant's name refers to its leaf buds. The juice of the fruit causes staining that is difficult to remove from cloth.

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