The New Student's Reference Work/Mulberry

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Mul'berry, species of Morus, a genus which belongs to a family closely related to the nettle family. About 100 species of mulberry have been described, all of which are trees of the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. In the United States the mulberry is known almost entirely as a fruit-bearing tree, although it is not cultivated in any general way. In the Old World mulberries are grown as food for silkworms as well as for the fruit. The silkworm mulberry is M. alba, and the chief fruit-producing mulberry is M. nigra. M. alba is a native of China, and has been cultivated from the earliest times in connection with the silk-worm industry. The fruit is small and white or violet. The tree is quite frequently seen here about old farm-houses, is small, has smooth, shiny leaves. The black mulberry is a native of Asia, and is cultivated chiefly in the Old World for its fruit, which is large and fleshy, mostly dark-colored. The native red mulberry of the United States is M. rubra, which grows mostly in rich soils and bottom lands. It is generally distributed, common east of the Mississippi. The tree varies in height from 15 to 60 feet, the branches grow low and spread wide, giving a rounded form. The bark is rough and grayish-brown. In early summer the brilliant yellow-green foliage of that time is markedly beautiful. In size and shape the fruit reminds one of a long, wild blackberry; the color is red, turning to a deep purple. The berries are juicy, rather insipid. The wood is soft, light yellow in color, and of value; from the inner bark a fibre is obtained that the Indians of the south weave into a cloth. The paper mulberry, growing here from New York southward, has been introduced into this country from China and Japan, where it is cultivated for its fibrous bark, utilized in making paper. It is a small, low-branched tree, its leaves closely resemble the red-mulberry leaves, but the fruit is quite different, club-shaped, unlike in taste.