The white mulberry tree, also known as Morus alba, is a type of mulberry tree which has very much grown in popularity due to its multiple uses. Although native to northern China, the white mulberry tree is now cultivated and naturalized worldwide. Despite it being short-lived, the white mulberry tree grows very fast and it usually reaches small to medium sizes. The mulberry tree has leaves which can be up to 30 cm long on young trees, single-sex catkins flowers, and 1-2.5 cm long fruit. As the name suggests, the fruit of the white mulberry tree is usually white, but in the wild it is deep purple and in cultivated areas it can vary from white to red.
The white mulberry tree is also renowned for the rapidity with which the pollen is released – at over half the speed of sound. The main reason why people cultivate the white mulberry tree is because its leaves are the preferred feedstock for silkworms. In China, the mulberry tree has been cultivated for silkworms for over 2000 years now. Besides the silkworm industry, the white mulberry tree leaves are also cut for food for livestock such as goats and cattle, in the areas where the ground vegetation is not available during dry seasons. The white mulberry tree produces fruit which are eaten by humans, too, as they are delicious. They are often made into wine, too.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses the fruit from the white mulberry tree to treat prematurely gray hair, diabetes, and constipation. ‘Toning’ the blood is also done by means of white mulberry tree fruit. The white mulberry tree has so many more therapeutic uses. For instance, the bark is used as a treatment for edema, cough, fever, red, dry and sore eyes, headache, and wheezing, but also for urination promotion. In the United States, a fruitless white mulberry tree was developed, for landscaping purposes. Although the project failed, the white, fruitless mulberry tree can now be used as an ornamental tree, as well. The white mulberry tree has some medicinal uses, as well: it prevents dental caries, it has antioxidant effects, it treats hyperuricemia and gout, and it has a neuroprotective effect in in vivo and in vitro.