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(mulberry), a family of dicotyledonous plants including trees, shrubs, and—much less commonly—herbs. Almost all species contain a milky juice. The leaves have stipules and are mostly alternate. The small, inconspicuous flowers are regular and unisexual; they are gathered in racemose, spicate, umbelliferous, or capitate inflorescences. In many species the axis of the inflorescence is thickened and has the shape of a saucer, cup, or sphere. The perianth generally has four sepals; sometimes a perianth is absent. The fruit is usually a collection of drupes and is often connate.
There are more than 1,500 species, making up 60 to 85 genera. The plants are found mainly in the tropics and subtropics. The largest genus, Ficus (fig), comprises about 1,000 species. In the USSR the common fig (F. carica) grows wild; cultivated species include the mulberry (Morus) and, less commonly, the osage orange (Madura).
The family Moraceae includes many economically important species. The fruits of the fig, the breadfruit tree, and the mulberry are edible; the milky juice of the cow tree (Brosimum galactodendron, or Galactodendron Mile) may be used in food. Mulberry leaves serve as food for silkworms. The rubber plant (Ficus elástica) and species of the genus Castilloa are sources of rubber. Species of several genera, including Chlorophora, Brous-sonetia, Madura, and Morus, yield valuable lumber. There are a number of poisonous species, for example, the upas tree (Antiaris toxicaría).
REFERENCEHutchinson, J. The Genera of Flowering Plants, vol. 2. Oxford, 1967.
M. E. KIRPICHNIKOV