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Morus is a genus with more than 150 known species of flowering plants that are commonly known as mulberries and belong to the family Moraceae. Most species can be found in Asia, but others are native to the subtropical areas of the Americas, Africa, and Europe. The classification of the plants in this genus is complicated because of widespread hybridization.
These types of plants are fast growing when young, but their growth becomes slower as they mature, with heights rarely exceeding 33 to 49 feet (10 to 15 m). Morus plants grown from seeds are generally better shaped and healthier, but they can also be grown from large cuttings that easily develop roots. They are usually raised in block plantations with measured distances between plants and rows. Mulberries thrive in a neutral soil that is properly drained, while shallow soils are not recommended. To maximize yield, they need full sunlight exposure.
The different species of the Morus genus bear multiple fruits. When unripe, the colors of the fruits are usually white, green, or pale yellow. As they start to mature, the fruits turn red and become dark purple to black when ripe. Darker varieties are sweeter in flavor compared to the lighter fruited varieties. The berries are edible and can be used in making cordials, tarts, and pies.
Mulberry fruits are known for their anthocyanin content, a pigment used for natural food colorants. These fruits have become more significant in the food industry because of the high demand of natural colorants for culinary purposes. Anthocyanins in mulberries are easy to extract and soluble in water. They can be used for the production of sauce, wine, and juice.
The juice extracted from the fruits of Morus plants can be used as natural remedies for constipation, dizziness, and chronic gastritis. Mulberry fruits also contain B-vitamins, vitamin C, and iron that promote the production of body fluids. By taking an ounce of ripe mulberries in summer, a scorched tongue and parched mouth can be avoided. Other health benefits offered by the antioxidant activity of anthocyanins include stress reduction, immune enhancement, and cardiovascular protection.
Leaves of Morus plants, especially those from white mulberries, have ecological importance due to being the only source of food for silkworms. The cocoon or pupa of these caterpillars has been used for making silk for more than 4,000 years. Other larvae of Lepidoptera species that also feed on these plants include the sycamore, lime hawk-moth, and common emerald.
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