Mulberry common name for a group of heterozygous, fast growing deciduous species of genus Morus of the family Moraceae. Mulberry is a multipurpose social tree of great economic importance. The leaf constitutes the chief source of food for silkworm (Bombyx mori); protein of mulberry leaves is the source for the silkworm to synthesize the two silk proteins, fribroin and sericin. The genus Morus is native to Indo-China and is widely distributed in the lower sub-Himalayan region up to the elevation of 2100 m. Mulberry plants are cultivated in the northern zone of Bangladesh, particularly in Rajshahi, where bangladesh sericulture research and training institute has been established in 1962.
The genus Morus comprises of about 65 recognized species, of which M. alba is widely grown for rearing of silkworm. Mulberry plants are dioecious or monoecious. Inflorescence is catkin, and male catkins are usually larger than female ones. Flowers are small, sessile or shortly pedicillate, regular and cross-pollinated mainly by wind. Leaves are simple, alternate, entire, toothed, stipulate and petiolate. Mulberry plants are propagated by vegetative means. Locally cutting method of propagation is popular and is widely used but is restricted in a single season and usually done just prior to winter.
In Bangladesh Mulberry is not only associated with sericulture, but is also useful as fodder, timber, and medicine. The seeds contain 25-30% oil. Being a heavy leaf producing plant, it is also used as a shade tree. [ATM Naderuzzaman]
See also silkworm.