Morus nigra

Morus nigra

Black Mulberry (Morus nigra) is a species of mulberry. It is native to southwestern Asia, where it has been cultivated for so long that its precise natural range is unknown.

It is a small deciduous tree growing to 10-13 m tall. The leaves are 10-20 cm long and 6-10 cm broad (up to 23 cm long on vigorous shoots), downy on the underside, the upper surface rough with very short, stiff hairs. The edible fruit is dark purple, almost black, when ripe, 2-3 cm 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).

Cultivation and uses

Black Mulberry has long been cultivated for its edible fruit, and is planted and often naturalised west across much of Europe, including Ukraine, and east into China. Multiple fruits of the Persian or black mulberry become purplish-black at maturity. Black, red and white Mulberry are widespread in Northern India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, where the tree and the fruit are known by the Persian-derived names Toot (Mulberry) or Shahtoot (شاه توت) (King's or "Superior" Mulberry). Jams and sherbets are often made from the fruit in this region. The black mulberry was imported into Britain in the 17th. century in the hope that it would be useful in the cultivation of silkworms.


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