Black Mulberry

Morus nigra, the black mulberry, is a species of flowering plant in the family Moraceae, 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).

Morus nigra is a deciduous tree growing 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.

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).

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.

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 (شاه توت) (king's or "superior" mulberry), or, in Arabic, shajarat tukki. 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 (Bombyx mori). It was unsuccessful because silkworms prefer the white mulberry but has left a legacy of large and old trees in many country house gardens. Care is needed to prevent the crushed berries from staining carpets in the houses nearby.

Mulberries, raw

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy 180 kJ (43 kcal)
Carbohydrates 9.8 g
- Sugars 8.1
- Dietary fiber 1.7 g
Fat 0.39 g
Protein 1.44 g
Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.029 mg (3%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.101 mg (8%)
Niacin (vit. B3) 0.62 mg (4%)
Vitamin B6 0.05 mg (4%)
Folate (vit. B9) 6 μg (2%)
Choline 12.3 mg (3%)
Vitamin C 36.4 mg (44%)
Calcium 39 mg (4%)
Iron 1.85 mg (14%)
Magnesium 18 mg (5%)
Phosphorus 38 mg (5%)
Potassium 194 mg (4%)
Sodium 10 mg (1%)
Zinc 0.12 mg (1%)

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