Morus alba Linn. Urticaceae. White Mulberry.
A tree of China and Japan but naturalized in Europe, Asia and America. It is commonly supposed, says Thompson, that cuttings of the white mulberry were first brought into Tuscany from the Levant in 1434 and in the course of the century this species had almost entirely superceded M. nigra for the feeding of silk worms in Italy. The variety multicaulis was brought from Manila to Senegal, and some years afterwards to Europe, and was described by Kenrick, 1835, preceding which date it had reached America. In 1773 or 1774, Wm. Bartram noticed large plantations of M. alba grafted on M. rubra near Charleston, S. C., for the purpose of feeding silk worms, but it is probable that its first introduction was coeval with the interest in silk culture before 1660. The mulberry trees planted in Virginia in 1623 by order of the Colonial Assembly were probably of this species. There are many varieties of M. alba, and in India it is cultivated for its fruit, of which some kinds are sweet, some acid, and of all shades of color from white to a deep blackish-purple. In Kashmir and Afghanistan, the fruit furnishes a considerable portion of the food of the inhabitants in autumn and much of it is dried and preserved. In Kabul, there is a white, seedless variety called shah-toot, or royal mulberry. The fruits are from two to two and one-half inches long and of the thickness of the small finger, very sweet, and the tree is inexhaustibly prolific. In its season it forms the chief food of the poor.
Morus celtidifolia H. B. & K.
Peru to Mexico. The tree bears an edible fruit.
Morus indica Linn. Aino Mulberry.
Tropical Asia. The aino mulberry is cultivated in Bengal for feeding silk worms, and about Bombay its dark red fruit is sold in the bazaars for making tarts.
Morus laevigata Wall.
East Indies. This species is found wild and cultivated in the Himalayas and elsewhere in India. The fruit is long, cylindrical, yellowish-white, sweet but insipid. The long, cylindrical, purple fruit is much eaten.
Morus nigra Linn. Black Mulberry.
Temperate Asia. The black mulberry is a native of north Persia and the Caucasus. It was brought at a very early period to Greece. Theophrastus was acquainted with it and called it sukamnos. It is only at a late period that this tree, brought by Lucius Vitellus from Syria to Rome, was successfully reared in Italy, after all earlier experiments, according to Pliny, had been conducted in vain. At the time of Palladius and even in that of Athaneus, the mulberry tree had multiplied but little in that country. The introduction of silk culture under Justinian gave a new importance to this tree, and, from that time to the present, its propagation in western and northern Europe, Denmark and Sweden has taken place very rapidly. It was not till the sixteenth century that this plant was superceded by M. alba for the feeding of silk worms. This species, according to Mueller, was planted in France in 1500. In the United States, it is scarcely hardy north of New York, but there and southward it is occasionally cultivated for its fruit. In 1760, Jefferys states it was not found in Louisiana.
Morus rubra Linn. Red Mulberry.
From New England to Illinois and southward. The fruit is preferred, says Emerson, to that of any other species by most people. The tree grows abundantly in northern Missouri and along the rivers of Kansas. In Indian Territory, the large, sweet, black fruit is greatly esteemed by the Indians. This fruit was observed by De Soto on the route to Apalachee, and the tree was seen by Strachey on James River planted around native dwellings.
Morus serrata Roxb.
Himalayan region. This species is cultivated in Kunawar. It is common in the Himalayas. The purple fruit is mucilaginous and sweet but not very fleshy.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.