Japanese Mulberry – Morus australis

Japanese Mulberry – Morus australis
Mulberry Family: Moraceae

Mulberries are edible and the bark is used in many types of specialized papers.

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This Morton Arboretum Japanese Mulberry specimen is 36 years old, grown from seed.

Japanese Mulberry grows as a small tree or shrub. Bark grayish brown. Winter buds conic to ovoid, large. Stipules linear-lanceolate. Petiole 1-1.5 cm, pubescent; leaf blade lanceolate to broadly ovate, simple or (2 or)3-5-lobed, lobes rounded to linear, 5-14 × 1-12 cm, abaxially sparsely covered with thick hairs, adaxially scabrous and densely covered with short hairs, base cuneate to cordate, margin serrate or entire and without subulate apiculum or seta, apex acute to caudate. Male catkins 1-1.5 cm, pubescent. Female inflorescences globose, ca. 1 cm, densely white pubescent; peduncle short. Male flowers: calyx lobes green, ovate; anther yellow. Female flowers: calyx lobes dark green, oblong; style long; stigma 2-branched, abaxially pubescent. Syncarp red to dark purple when mature, shortly cylindric, ca. 1 cm in diam. [2]

Japanese Mulberry in fall colors

Shrubs or small trees, 1-7 m tall, deciduous. Bark grayish brown. Branchlets slightly ridged, glabrous; spines 0.5-2 cm. Winter buds reddish brown. Petiole 1-2 cm, sparsely pubescent; leaf blade ovate to rhombic-ovate, occasionally 3-lobed, 5-14 × 3-6 cm, abaxially greenish white and glabrous or sparsely pubescent, adaxially deep green and glabrous, base rounded to cuneate, margin entire, apex acuminate; secondary veins 4-6 on each side of midvein, tertiary veins reticulate. Inflorescences axillary, single or in pairs. Male inflorescences capitulate, ca. 5 mm in diam.; peduncle shorter than capitulum. Female inflorescences 1-1.5 cm in diam., axillary; peduncle short. Male flowers: calyx lobes fleshy, margin revolute, apex thick; pistillode pyramidal. Female flowers: calyx lobes with margin revolute, apically shield-shaped; ovary immersed in lower part of calyx. Fruiting syncarp orange red when mature, ± globose, ca. 2.5 cm in diam. Fl. May-Jun, fr. Jun-Jul.

Sunny forest margins, mountain slopes; 500-2200 m. Anhui, Fujian, SE Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Shandong, S Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Japan (cultivated), Korea] [2].

The bark fibers are used for making paper, the leaves are used as food for silkworms, the fruit are edible, and the bark is used medicinally. [3]

Japanese Mulberry Bark
Japanese mulberry bark is used in the manufacture of highly-valued art paper

This species is closely related to Morus indica Linnaeus, and some authors have considered them conspecific. Varieties have been recognized on the basis of differences in leaf form, particularly the degree of division. Deeply divided leaves are characteristic of juvenile growth in a number of genera in the Moraceae and other families, and it does not seem advisable to give such material formal names, at least without more detailed population studies.
1. J.D. Burton, USDA Forest Service Silvic Manual, Maclura pomifera (Raf.) Schneid.
2. Flora of China, Morus australis
3. Flora of China, Maclura tricuspidata
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Mulberry Family: Moraceae consists of flowering trees, shrubs, herbs or lianas (vines), both evergreen and deciduous; mainly woody and tropical, they are most abundant in Asia.  Moraceae includes both self-supporting and epiphytic (plants that use an immobile object such as another plant, or a building to support their structure) vines. The largest genus is Ficus, with about 750 species of figs.
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