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mulberry

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yields a yellowish or olive dye, also called fustic, that has been used chiefly for dyeing woolens; it has largely been replaced by synthetic aniline dyes.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 logania 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 fig genus includes fruit trees, ornamentals (e.g., the rubber plant), and several species renowned in the religion and legends of India (e.g., the banyan and the bo tree).

Classification

The mulberry family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Urticales.

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mulberry

mul·ber·ry / ˈməlˌberē/ • n. 1. (also mulberry tree or bush) a small deciduous tree (genus Morus, family Moraceae) with broad leaves, native to the Far East and long cultivated elsewhere. ∎  the dark red or white loganberrylike fruit of this tree. 2. a dark red or purple color.

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mulberry

mulberry Dark purple‐red fruit of the tree Morus nigra, slightly sweet and acid, similar in shape and size to a raspberry or loganberry. There is also a white mulberry, M. alba. Of little commercial importance as a fruit; the leaves of the mulberry are the only food plant of the silk‐worm.

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mulberry

mulberry XIV. OE. mōrberie, *mūrberie (cf. mūrbēam mulberry tree), ME. murberie (XIII), corr. to Du. moerbezie, OHG. mōr-, mūrberi (MHG. mūlber, G. maulbeere); f. *mōr — L. mōrum mulberry, mōrus mulberry-tree + BERRY.

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mulberry

mulberry Any member of the genus Morus, trees and shrubs that grow in tropical and temperate regions. They have simple leaves, and the male flowers are catkins, while the female flowers are borne in spikes. Several species are cultivated for their fleshy, edible fruits.

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mulberry

mulberry See MORUS.

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mulberry

mulberrybeery, bleary, cheery, dearie, dreary, Dun Laoghaire, eerie, eyrie (US aerie), Kashmiri, leery, peri, praemunire, query, smeary, teary, theory, weary •Deirdre • incendiary • intermediary •subsidiary •auxiliary, ciliary, domiciliary •apiary • topiary • farriery • furriery •justiciary •bestiary, vestiary •breviary • aviary • hosiery •diary, enquiry, expiry, fiery, friary, inquiry, miry, priory, spiry, wiry •podiatry, psychiatry •dowry, floury, flowery, loury, showery, towery •brewery • jewellery (US jewelry) •curie, de jure, fioriture, fury, houri, Jewry, jury, Manipuri, Missouri, moory, Newry, tandoori, Urey •statuary • actuary • sanctuary •obituary • sumptuary • voluptuary •January • electuary • ossuary •mortuary •Bradbury, Cadbury •blackberry, hackberry •cranberry • waxberry •Barbary, barberry •Shaftesbury • raspberry •bayberry, blaeberry •Avebury • Aylesbury • Sainsbury •bilberry, tilbury •bribery •corroboree, jobbery, robbery, slobbery, snobbery •dogberry • Roddenberry • 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pulsatory, purificatory, reificatory, revelatory, rotatory •natatory • elucidatory • castigatory •mitigatory • justificatory •imprecatory • equivocatory •flagellatory • execratory • innovatory •eatery, excretory •glittery, jittery, skittery, twittery •benedictory, contradictory, maledictory, valedictory, victory •printery, splintery •consistory, history, mystery •presbytery •inhibitory, prohibitory •hereditary • auditory • budgetary •military, paramilitary •solitary • cemetery • limitary •vomitory • dormitory • fumitory •interplanetary, planetary, sanitary •primogenitary • dignitary •admonitory, monitory •unitary • monetary • territory •secretary • undersecretary •plebiscitary • repository • baptistery •transitory •depositary, depository, expository, suppository •niterie •Godwottery, lottery, pottery, tottery •bottomry • watery • psaltery •coterie, notary, protonotary, rotary, votary •upholstery •bijouterie, charcuterie, circumlocutory •persecutory • statutory • salutary •executory 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Mulberry

MULBERRY

MULBERRY (Heb. תּוּת, tut). Two species of mulberry grow in Israel: the black, Morus nigra, and the white, Morus alba. The latter is a comparative newcomer to the region, the ancient sources referring only to the former. The mulberry seems to have originated in Persia, from where it was transferred to the Middle East. There is evidence that it was growing in Greece in the sixth century b.c.e. In Aramaic literature it is first mentioned in the Book of *Ahikar, which was discovered among *Elephantine papyri, where it says: "My son, be not in a hurry, like the almond tree whose blossom is the first to appear, but whose fruit is the last to be eaten; but be equal and sensible, like the mulberry tree whose blossom is the last to appear, but whose fruit is the first to be eaten" (Ahikar, Syriac Version A, 2:7). According to the Talmud the fruit of the mulberry ripens 52 days after the flowering (Bek. 8a). In i Maccabees 6:34 it is related that the elephants brought by the Syrians were incited to battle with the juice of grapes and mulberries. The staining of the hands by the juice is referred to by the rabbis in their parable of the dialogue between God and Cain, who pleaded "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. 4:9): "This may be compared to one who stole mulberries and, on being caught by the owner, pleaded his innocence. The owner replied: 'But your hands are stained.' Thus said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Cain: 'Thy brother's blood crieth unto Me'" (Gen. R. 22: 9). The mulberry initially is white, then reddens and finally becomes black (see Ma'as. 1:2). It is a large, long-living tree. Until a generation ago, an old mulberry tree used to be shown in Jerusalem near the Pool of Siloam about which there was a legend (mentioned in a travel book of 1575) that Isaiah hid in the hollow of its trunk when pursued by Manasseh. Apparently the town Bertotha (Or. 1:4; et al.) takes its name from the mulberry. The white mulberry, the leaves of which are used for feeding silkworms, originated in China and was brought to Ereẓ Israel at a late date. Joseph *Nasi planted extensive orchards of them in Tiberias in 1565 with the intention of developing a silk industry. This venture, however, failed. Another effort was made in Petaḥ Tikvah by the Ḥovevei Zion, who in 1891 planted 576 dunams (144 acres) with mulberry trees, but this venture also failed. Nowadays the tree is grown in gardens for its beauty and for the shade it gives. There is no basis for the Authorized Version's rendering of bekha'im in ii Samuel 5:23 and i Chronicles 14:14, as mulberry trees (see *Mastic).

bibliography:

Joseph ha-Kohen, Emek ha-Bakha (1852), 129; Loew, Flora, 1 (1928), 266–74; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), 140f.; M. Zohary, Olam ha-Ẓemaḥim (1954), 192f. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 169.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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