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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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mulberry Morus nigra and M. alba, the black and white mulberries respectively, are fruits of Asian origin. The white mulberry is native to the central and eastern mountains of China and has been cultivated there for at least 5,000 years, mainly for rearing silkworms which are fed on its leaves and will eat nothing else. The black mulberry may have originated in the mountains of Nepal or the Caucasus and is the species usually grown for its fruits.

Mulberries were referred to in the Bible in connection with King David and were also described by Pliny (1st century ad). Pliny, evidently speaking of the black mulberry, remarked that it had not been improved by horticulturists in the same way as other fruits.