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Botanical Name : Morus nigra
Species: M. nigra
Habitat : Morus nigra is native to southwestern Asia, where it has been cultivated for so long that its precise natural range is unknown. It is known for its large number of chromosomes, as it has 154 pairs (308 individuals).
Black (Morus nigra) mulberries are thought to have originated in the mountainous areas of Mesopotamia and Persia and are now widespread throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan, Syria, and Turkey, where the tree and the fruit are known by the Persian-derived names toot (mulberry) of shahtoot (??? ???) (king’s or “superior” mulberry), or, in Arabic, shajarat tukki. Jams and sherbets are often made from the fruit in this region.
Morus nigra is a deciduous tree growing (at a slow rate) to 12 m (39 ft) tall by 15 m (49 ft) broad. The leaves are 10–20 cm (4–8 in) long by 6–10 cm (2–4 in) broad – up to 23 cm (9 in) long on vigorous shoots, downy on the underside, the upper surface rough with very short, stiff hairs.
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It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant)The plant is self-fertile
The edible fruit is dark purple, almost black, when ripe, 2–3 centimetres (0.8–1.2 in) long, a compound cluster of several small drupes; it is richly flavoured, similar to the red mulberry (Morus rubra) but unlike the more insipid fruit of the white mulberry (Morus alba).
Prefers a warm moist but well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered sunny position. Prefers a light soil. Plants are very tolerant of atmospheric pollution. Trees are hardy as far north as southern Sweden. A slow growing but very ornamental tree, the mulberry is sometimes cultivated in gardens for its delicious edible fruit. The tree is not grown on a commercial scale because the fruit is too soft and easily damaged to allow it to be transported to market, and is therefore best eaten straight from the tree. There are some named varieties. The mulberry takes many years to settle down and produce good crops of fruit, about 15 years being the norm. Trees fruit well in southern and south-western Britain but they require the protection of a wall further north if the fruit is to ripen. This is a good tree for growing grapes into. It means that the grapes are difficult to pick, but they always seem to be healthier and free from fungal diseases. Plants are late coming into leaf and also lose their leaves at the first autumn frosts though the tree in leaf casts quite a dense shade. 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. Once considered to be a very long-lived tree, doubts are now being cast on this assumption, it is probably fairly short-lived. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
The seed germinates best if given 2 – 3 months cold stratification. Sow the seed as soon as it is ripe if possible, otherwise 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. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 – 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Plant out in spring. A good percentage take, though they sometimes fail to thrive. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, 25 – 30cm with a heel of 2 year old wood, autumn or early spring in a cold frame or a shady bed outside. Bury the cuttings to threequarters of their depth. It is said that cuttings of older wood up to 2.5 metres long can be readily made to strike. The cuttings are taken in February and planted 30cm deep in a shady sheltered position outdoors. The stem is wrapped in moss to prevent water loss by transpiration, with only the top few buds not being covered. Layering in autumn
Edible Parts: Fruit. – raw, cooked or used in preserves. A delicious slightly acid flavour, it makes an excellent dessert fruit and can be eaten in quantity. The fruit is juicy and refreshing, though it must be used as soon as it is ripe (from mid-August to September) otherwise it will start to rot. The fruit falls from the tree as soon as it is fully ripe. It is best, therefore, to grow the tree in short grass to cushion the fall of the fruit but to still make it possible to find and harvest. The fruit can also be dried and ground into a powder. The fruit is up to 25mm in diameter.
On each gallon of ripe Mulberries, pour 1 gallon of boiling water and let them stand for 2 days. Then squeeze all through a hair sieve or bag. Wash out the tub or jar and return the liquor to it, put in the sugar at the rate of 3 lb. to each gallon of the liquor; stir up until quite dissolved, then put the liquor into a cask. Let the cask be raised a little on one side until fermentation ceases, then bung down. If the liquor be clear, it may be bottled in 4 months’ time. Into each bottle put 1 clove and a small lump of sugar and the bottles should be kept in a moderate temperature. The wine may be used in a year from time of bottling.
Mulberries are sometimes used in Devonshire for mixing with cider during fermentation, giving a pleasant taste and deep red colour. In Greece, also, the fruit is subjected to fermentation, thereby furnishing an inebriating beverage.
Scott relates in Ivanhoe that the Saxons made a favourite drink, Morat, from the juice of Mulberries with honey, but it is doubtful whether the Morum of the Anglo-Saxon ‘Vocabularies’ was not the Blackberry, so that the ‘Morat’ of the Saxons may have been Blackberry Wine.
Unless very ripe Mulberries are used, the jam will have an acid taste. Put 1 lb. of Mulberries in a jar and stand it in a pan of water on the fire till the juice is extracted. Strain them and put the juice into a preserving pan with 3 lb. of sugar. Boil it and remove the scum and put in 3 lb. of very ripe Mulberries and let them stand in the syrup until thoroughly warm, then set the pan back on the fire and boil them very gently for a short time, stirring all the time and taking care not to break the fruit. Then take the pan off and let them stand in the syrup all night. Put the pan on the fire again in the morning and boil again gently till stiff.
The mulberry has a long history of medicinal use in Chinese medicine, almost all parts of the plant are used in one way or another. The white mulberry (M. alba) is normally used, but this species has the same properties. Recent research has shown improvements in elephantiasis when treated with leaf extract injections and in tetanus following oral doses of the sap mixed with sugar. Analgesic, emollient, sedative. The leaves are antibacterial, astringent, diaphoretic, hypoglycaemic, odontalgic and ophthalmic. They are taken internally in the treatment of colds, influenza, eye infections and nosebleeds. The leaves are collected after the first frosts of autumn and can be used fresh but are generally dried. The stems are antirheumatic, diuretic, hypotensive and pectoral. A tincture of the bark is used to relieve toothache. The branches are harvested in late spring or early summer and are dried for later use. The fruit has a tonic effect on kidney energy. It is used in the treatment of urinary incontinence, tinnitus, premature greying of the hair and constipation in the elderly. Its main use in herbal medicine is as a colouring and flavouring in other medicines. The root bark is antitussive, diuretic, expectorant and hypotensive. It is used internally in the treatment of asthma, coughs, bronchitis, oedema, hypertension and diabetes. The roots are harvested in the winter and dried for later use. The bark is anthelmintic and purgative, it is used to expel tape worms. Extracts of the plant have antibacterial and fungicidal activity. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves. It is used in the treatment of diabetes.
Other Uses :
Dye; Fibre; Wood.
A fibre used in weaving is obtained from the bark. A red-violet to dark purple dye is obtained from the fruit. A yellow-green dye is obtained from the leaves. Wood – used in joinery.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.