WHITE MULBERRY
File Size: 48 KB
 
Morus alba  L.
Riley County, Kansas
Height: To 55 feet
Family: Moraceae - Mulberry Family
Flowering Period:   April, May
Trunks: Erect; branches unarmed; bark reddish brown or yellowish brown, furrows shallow, ridges long, narrow; wood white, soft.
Twigs: Green to reddish green or rust colored, flexible, smooth, usually sparsely pubescent, sometimes glabrous; leaf scars oval to round; sap milky; buds yellowish brown, ovoid, .16 to .24 inch, apex rounded to acute, scales glabrous or sparsely ciliate
Leaves: Alternate, simple, deciduous, both lobed and unlobed on same tree; petiole 1 to 2 inches, pubescent; blade ovate, 2.5 to 4 inches long, 1.2 to 2.4 inches wide; base heart-shaped, wedge-shaped or truncate; margins often irregularly lobed, coarsely toothed; tip short-pointed; lower surface glabrous or primary veins and vein axils pubescent; upper surface glabrous, glossy.
Flowers: Catkins; staminate catkins in leaf axils on new growth, drooping, 5-30-flowered, .4 to 2 inches; peduncles .12 to .8 inch; pedicels absent; pistillate catkins in leaf axils on new growth, drooping to spreading or erect, cylindric, 3-25-flowered, .2 to .6 inch; peduncles .08 to .24 inch, pedicels absent. Flowers unisexual, more or less radially symmetric; staminate: sepals 4-5, distinct, whitish green to greenish yellow, often tinged red, ovate to elliptic, .06 to .08 inch, adaxially pubescent, distally ciliate, apex acute; petals absent; stamens 4; pistillate: sepals 2-4, somewhat connate, calyx becoming fleshy in fruit, lobes green, sometimes tinged white or purple, ovate, distally ciliate, apex acute; petals absent; pistil 1, ovary superior, 2-locular; styles 2.
Fruit: May and June; multiple, white, red, or dark purple, .6 to 1 inch long, .3 to .4 inch thick, glabrous, fleshy; achene 1 per ovary, tan or light brown, flattened-ovoid, .08 to .1 inch.
Habitat: Margins of woods, thickets, fencerows, and disturbed sites. Sometimes planted as shade trees.
Distribution: Throughout Kansas
Origin: Introduced
Uses: The Cherokee used the fruit for food and took infusions of bark as a purgative and laxative.
Comments: White mulberry, the primary food plant of Bombyx mori, the domesticated silk moth, was introduced to North America in the early 1600s with the hope of establishing a silk industry. The oldest collections of Morus alba from Kansas are deposited in the Kansas State University Herbarium and date back to 1884 and 1885.
 See red mulberry

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