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mulberry,common name for the Moraceae, a family of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs, often climbing, mostly of pantropical distribution, and characterized by milky sap. Several genera bear edible fruit, e.g., Morus, (true mulberries), Ficus (the fig genus), and Artocarpus, which includes the breadfruit and related species. The related hemp family, whose plants do not contain latex, were formerly included in this family.
Common Species and Their Uses
The mulberry family is most important as the basis of the silkworm industry; silkworms feed on the leaves of the mulberries (genus Morus) and sometimes of the Osage orange (Maclura pomifera). The white mulberry (M. alba) has been cultivated in China since very early times. In the Middle Ages it began to replace the black mulberry (M. nigra), which had been grown by the Greeks and Romans and, from the 9th cent., by the people of N Europe for silkworm culture. In Greek legend the berries of the white mulberry turned red when its roots were bathed by the blood of the lovers Pyramis and Thisbe, who killed themselves. Both the white and the red mulberry (M. rubra, native to North America) have been cultivated in America since colonial times, but the lack of cheap hand labor prevented the establishment of a silkworm industry. Mulberry fruits are tender and juicy and resemble blackberries. In the South the fruit of M. rubra is made into wine and is considered a valuable agricultural and wildlife feed.
The Osage orange, also called bowwood because it was used by the Osage tribe to make bows, is a hardy tree native to the S central United States. Its fruit is used as a natural insect repellent. Cultivated widely, often as a hedge plant because of its spiny, impenetrable branches, it is a source of a flexible and durable wood and of a yellow-orange dye, from the root bark, that is similar to the more widely used fustic (Maclura tinctoria). The heartwood of fustic yields a yellowish or olive dye, also called fustic, that has been used chiefly for dyeing woolens; it has largely been replaced by synthetic aniline dyes. In its native habitat of Central and South America the fustic is also a timber tree.
Fiber plants of the mulberry family include the paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) and the upas tree (Antiaris toxicara) of the East Asian tropics, where the bast fiber is utilized for rough fabrics and for paper, often after a crude retting process. The latex of the upas [Malay,=poison tree] contains a cardiac glycoside used for arrow poison; the similarly employed strychnine tree of the loganialogania
, common name for the Loganiaceae, a family of herbs, shrubs, and trees of warmer climates, including many woody climbing species. Some plants of this family are grown in the United States as ornamentals, and several are sources of medicines and poisons.
..... Click the link for more information. family is sometimes also called upas.
The breadfruit (Artocarpus ultilis) is cultivated as a staple food plant in the Pacific tropics and in the West Indies, where it was introduced from Polynesia in the late 18th cent.; the Bounty was carrying breadfruit plants to Jamaica when the famous mutiny occurred. The compound, high-carbohydrate fruit has a taste when cooked that resembles that of fresh bread or cooked potatoes. The tree's wood, fiber, and latex are also variously utilized locally. The important figfig,
name for members of the genus Ficus of the family Moraceae (mulberry family). This large genus contains some 800 species of widely varied tropical vines (some of which are epiphytic); shrubs; and trees, including the banyan, the peepul, or bo tree, and the
..... Click the link for more information. genus includes fruit trees, ornamentals (e.g., the rubber plant), and several species renowned in the religion and legends of India (e.g., the banyanbanyan
, species of fig (Ficus bengalensis) of the family Moraceae (mulberry family), native to India, where it is venerated. Its seeds usually germinate in the branches of some tree where they have been dropped by birds.
..... Click the link for more information. and the bo treebo tree
, fig tree (Ficus religiosa) of India held sacred by the Buddhists, who believe that Gautama received enlightenment under a bo tree at Bodh Gaya. A slip of this tree was planted at Anuradhapura to become one of the oldest known trees.
..... Click the link for more information. ).
The mulberry family is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
..... Click the link for more information. , class Magnoliopsida, order Urticales.