Mulberry

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Collage No.164
MFA Acc. #: 1999.706

Description

Deciduous trees belonging to the mulberry family (Moraceae, genus-Morus) are widely found in all temperate climates. These flowering trees produce a milky latex sap and an edible fruit. The white mulberry, Morus alba, is native to Asia and grown in Europe. Its leaves are used as a food supply for silk worms. The roots of the white mulberry and others, such as the Osage Orange mulberry, produce a yellow dye used for coloring prints. The red mulberry, Morus rubra, native to North America, has hard reddish brown wood with an uneven texture and silver graining. It is a rot resistant wood that is used for fence posts, window sills, window frames and shoe lasts. The fruit from the red mulberry has been used for a dark red to purple dye. The colorant is an acid base indicator that turns red in acids and blue in bases. See also Mulberry paper.

Untitled by Mark Tobey
MFA Acc. #: 2002.145

Synonyms and Related Terms

white mulberry (Morus alba); red mulberry (Morus rubra); paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera); mûrier (Fr.); gelso (It.); kuwa (Jap.)

Lute (rabab
MFA Acc. #: 1981.773

Physical and Chemical Properties

Small tree growing to 15 m with low branches and spreading crown. Bark=gray with irregular ridges. Leaves = oval with serrated edges and irregular lobes (5-9 cm). Fruit=edible berry (2-3cm long, similar to blackberries) ripening in late summer. Density = 35-45 ppcf

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • R.J. Adrosko, Natural Dyes in the United States, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 1968
  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965
  • R.D. Harley, Artists' Pigments c. 1600-1835, Butterworth Scientific, London, 1982
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Website: Virginia Tech Dendrology website at www.fw.vt.edu/dendro/dendrology/main.htm (accessed Oct. 8, 2005)
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998