« AnteriorContinuar »
pounds to a cubic foot. It is said to be durable, and has been employed in England for various purposes of carpentry, for hoops, bows, wheels, and even ribs for small vessels, instead of oak. In France, this wood is considered of but little value, except for fuel. In some parts of Spain, in Sicily, and in Persia, the leaves of this species are said to be preferred to those of the white mulberry for the food of silkworms. The leaves are also eaten by cattle, sheep, and goats. The roots have an acrid, bitter taste, and are considered as an excellent vermifuge, when taken, in a powder, in doses of half a drachin. The tree, in every part, contains a milky juice, which, being coagulated, is found to form a coarse kind of elastic gum.
The fruit of this tree is of an agreeable acid and aromatic flavour, and is eaten raw, as a dessert, or may be formed into an agreeable preserve; and Evelyn says that, mixed with the juice of cider apples, it makes a very strong and agreeable wine. Dr. Clarke observes, that he saw some Greeks, in the Crimea, employed in distilling brandy from mulberries; which he describes as "a weak, but palatable spirit, as clear as water.” A wine is also made from it in France; but it requires to be drunk immediately, as it very soon becomes acid. The fruit, when ripe, is regarded as cooling and laxative, allaying thirst, and being grateful in cases of fever. When made into a syrup, it is considered excellent for a sore throat. Like the strawberry and raspberry, it is said to undergo the acetous fermentation in the stomach, and therefore may be safely eaten by persons afflicted with the rheumatism or gout. All kinds of poultry are excessively fond of this fruit, and devour it with avidity, whenever within their reach.
( LINNÆUS, Hortus Cliffortianus. Morus alba,
WILLDENOW, Linnæi Species Plantarum.
LOUDON, Arboretum Britannicum.
BRITAIN AND ANGLO-AMERICA.
Derivation. The specific name alba is derived from the Latin albus, white; in reference to the colour of the fruit of tnis species.
Engravings. Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, iii., fig. 1223, and vii., pl. 225 et 226 ; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Leaves with a deep scallop at the base, and either heart-shaped or ovate, undivided or lobed, serrated with unequal teeth, glossy, or, at least, smoothish; the projecting portions on the two sides of the basal sinus unequal.-Willdenon, Linnæi Spec. Plant.
AT HE Morus alba is a deciduous tree,
79 sometimes growing to a height of U t hirty or forty feet, with a trunk
from ten to twenty inches in diameter. It is readily distinguished from the black mulberry, even in winter, by its more numerous, slender, uprightgrowing, and white-barked shoots. It is a tree of much more rapid growth than that species, and its leaves are not only less rough and more succulent, but they contain more of the glutinous, milky substance, resembling caoutchouc, which gives tenacity to the silk produced by the worms that feed on theni. They are generally cordate and entire, but sometimes lobed, and always deeply serrated. The flowers, which put forth in May, are generally succeeded by an abundance of white fruit, but in some varieties, it is ash-coloured, purple, and even black.
Varieties. The Morus alba, like the apple, the pear, and the peach, when propagated from seeds, is liable to sport, and produce varieties differing, in many cases, more from one another than they do from other species. These variations are very numerous; but many of the sorts enumerated in catalogues, in different countries, perhaps are only dissimilar in name. The following, however, are some of those most generally cultivated for their leaves, in Europe and America, as affording food for the silkworm :
1. M. A. MACROPHYLLA, Loudon Large-leaved White-fruited Mulberry; Mûrier à grandes feuilles, Mûrier d'Espagne, Feuille d'Espagne, of the French; Grossblättriger Maulbeerbaum, of the Germans. This variety produces strong and vigorous shoots, with large leaves, sometimes measuring eight inches long, and six inches broad, resembling in form those of the Morus nigra, but are smooth, glossy, and succulent. The fruit is white. If grown in rich soil, this sort,
according to the “ Nouveau Cours d'Agriculture," is apt to produce leaves which are so exceedingly succulent, that they cause the worms that feed on them, to burst. It is a valuable variety for poor soils, particularly in calcareous, rocky situations. There is a sub-variety of this kind, cultivated in France, under the name of La grosse Reine, with very deep-green leaves, and black fruit, instead of white. The celebrated Alpine Mulberry, also, introduced into the United States a few years since, from the south side of the Alps, by Mr. Samuel Whitmarsh, of Massachusetts, is believed to be only a sub-variety of the Morus a. macrophylla. When planted on elevated land, even when exposed to cold, dry winds, or in a light, sandy soil, it produces a most healthy and nutritious food to the worms, which produce, when fed upon its leaves, the largest quantity of strong silk, of the purest and finest quality.
2. M. A. ROMANA, Loudon. Roman White-fruited Mulberry; Mûrier romain, of the French. This variety bears a close resemblance to the M. a. macrophylla.
3. M. A. NERVOSA, Loudon. Thick-nerved-leaved White-fruited Mulberry; Mo rus nervosa (“Bon Jardinier," of 1836.) The leaves of this variety are strongly marked with thick, white nerves on the under side. There is a sub-variety with larger leaves, called M. a. nervosa longifolia.
4. M. A. ITALICA, Loudon. Italian White-fruited Mulberry ; Mûrier d' Italie, of the French; with lobed leaves. In 1825, and for a few years before and after, while attempts were making to re-introduce the culture of silk into England and Ireland, this variety was principally planted.
5. M. A. ROSEA, Loudon. Rose-leaved White-fruited Mulberry or Small-leaved White Mulberry; Mûrier rose, Feuille rose, of the French. This tree is classified by M. Castelet, in his " Traité sur les Mûriers blancs,” among the wild varieties. The fruit is small, white, and insipid; and the leaves resemble the leaflets of a rose-tree, but are larger. This kind is said to produce remarkably strong silk.
6. M. A. COLUMBASSA, Loudon. Mûrier columba, of the French, having small, delicate leaves, and flexible branches. It is considered the most tender of all the kinds.
7. M. A. MEMBRANACEA, Loudon. Membranous-leaved White-fruited Mulberry; Mûrier à feuilles de parchemin, of the French, with large, thin, dry leaves.
8. M. A. SINENSIS, Loudon. Chinese White-fruited Mulberry ; Mürier de Chine, of the French; Chinese White Mulberry, of the Anglo-Americans, having large leaves, and is considered as one of the best varieties in the United States, for the production of silk.
9. M. A. PUMILA, Loudon. Dwarf White-fruited Mulberry; Mûrier nain, of the French; a shrub seldom exceeding ten feet in height. Its leaves, when young, are nearly as large as those of the M. a. macrophylla
10. M. A. FEMINA. Female White-fruited Mulberry ; Mûrier femelle, of the French; a spiny tree, classed by M. Castelet, among the wild varieties. It sends forth its fruit before the leaves, which are trilobate.
11. M. A. MORETTIANA, Loudon. Moretti's Black-fruited White Mulberry; Mûrier de Moretti, Mûrier de Dandolo, of the French; Dandolo's Mulberry, of the English. This variety, the fruit of which is black, has very large, flat, deepgreen, shining leaves, that are thin, and perfectly smooth on both surfaces. They rank high, as food for silkworms, and the silk made by the worms fed on them, has a beautiful gloss, and is said to be of a finer quality than any other. It is not so hardy as the Morus a. multicaulis, but is much more valuable for the purpose of raising silk. It was brought into notice, in Italy, in 1815, by Signore Moretti, professor in the university of Pavia; whence its name. It was also named in honour of Count Dandolo, who has not only devoted much time to the improvement of the culture of silk, but has written a work on the subject.
12. M. A. CONSTANTINOPOLITANA. Constantinople White-fruited Mulberry ; Morus constantinopolitana, of Loudon and others; Mûrier de Constantinople, of the French. This is a low-branching tree, seldom exceeding a height of ten or fifteen feet; a native of Greece, Turkey, and the Crete, and has long been cultivated in the Jardin des Plantes, at Paris, but which was not introduced into Britain before 1818. This variety or race, may readily be recognized by its rough, furrowed, stunted trunk; its thick and short branches; its leaves, which are always entire; and its solitary, and very white fruit.
13. M. A. MULTICAULIS, Loudon. Many-stalked Black-fruited White Mulberry; Mûrier multicaule, Mûrier à tiges nombreuses, Mûrier Perrottet, Mûrier des Philippines, of the French; Vielstieliger Maulbeerbaum, of the Germans; Moro delle Filippine, of the Italians; Morus multicaulis, Many-stalked Mulberry, Chinese Black Mulberry, Perrottet Mulberry, of the British and Anglo-Americans. This variety, or race, is a small, many stemmed-tree, or rather gigantic shrub, of rapid growth, with vigorous shoots, and large, pendulous leaves, which, even in poor, dry soils, are often six inches long, and eight or nine inches broad; and which, in rich, humid soils, are often a foot in length, and fifteen or sixteen inches in breadth. They are convex on the upper surface, cordate-rounded, being neither oblique nor lobed, crenate, acute, somewhat rough, when very large, but thin, and generally of a beautiful glossy-green. Its fruit is long, black, and of a flavour somewhat resembling that of the common black mulberry (Morus nigra.) This variety of mulberry differs from all the others in throwing up suckers freely from the crown of the roots, growing in clusters or bushes, like the lilac, the hazel, the berberry, &c.; hence the name multicaulis (many-stalked.) It also strikes root more readily by cuttings, either of the young or old wood, than any other variety. It was introduced into France in 1821, by M. Perrottet, (agricultural botanist and traveller of the marine and colonies of the French,) from Manilla, the capital of the Philippine Islands; into which country it had been brought some years before from China, as an ornamental tree. It was introduced into the United States by the late M. André Parmentier, of Brooklyn, Long Island, previous to 1828, when, in June of that year, it was brought into public notice by the American Institute, at New York, at the suggestion of the late Dr. Felix Pascalis. It has since been extensively propagated in France and Italy, where it is still considered one of the best varieties for cultivation, as food for the silkworm; but in America, we regret to say, after all the eulogium and attention it has received, it is generally regarded as illy adapted to the production of silk, and the "Brousa," the “Chinese," and the - Alpine” varieties, are taking its place. It still has its advocates, however, among whom is Mr. Gideon B. Smith, of Baltimore, who took special pains to bring this plant into public favour, through the columns of the “ American Farmer," in 1832, and who doubtless possesses more practical knowledge of its nature and application than any other one in the country. He states that, “ The Morus multicaulis is perfectly hardy, when grown on its own peculiar and natural soil, which is light, dry, and not over rich. On low, rich soils, the growth of the plants is protracted to so late a season, that they do not ripen their wood, and of course they are killed to the ground in winter. I have uniformly grown them on high, dry, rather sandy soil, and never lost a branch or a bud; while others, who planted them on low, alluvial, rich soils, have lost them every winter." "I estimate the comparative value of the Morus multicaulis, and the best white or Italian variety, as one to two; that is, I consider the Morus multicaulis worth one hundred per cent. more than the white Italian. It saves nine-tenths of the labour in gathering the leaves, on account of their being at least ten times the size of those of the white. One pound of Morus multicaulis leaves contains one third more nutritive matter than a pound of the best white mulberry leaves; the reason of this being, there is very little woody tibre in the Morus multicaulis leaves, and in the best white, there is a very larga portion, all of which passes off in the form of excrement.” On the contrary, it is contended by others, that there is an excess of moisture in the leaves of the Morus multicaulis, which is peculiarly productive of disease to the worm, and a disproportionate deficiency of the gummy matter, so essential to the formation of silk; yet, it is conceded by both parties, that, when this variety is used at all, it should be planted on a light, dry soil, which will do much to reduce the proportion of water, and increase that of the resinous matter of the leaf.
14. M. A. TATARICA. Tartarian Black-fruited White Mulberry ; Morus tatarica, of Loudon and others; Mûrier de Tartarie, of the French. A deciduous tree, growing to the height of twenty feet, in places inundated by the waters of the rivers Wolga and Tanais, or Don, in Tartary. Its fruit is generally black, resembling that of the Morus nigra; though Pallas speaks of it as reddish or pale, of no good flavour, though eaten raw by the Tartars, as well as dried, or made by them into a sweetmeat. A wine is also prepared from it, and a very wellflavoured spirit. Its leaves are reported as being esteemed in China for the food of silkworms. Fine samples of silk have also been made from them in the United States. This variety appears to be very nearly allied to the Morus a. multicaulis, and by some is considered to be the same plant. · M. Castelet, in his “ Traité sur les Mûriers blancs, describes three varieties which we are not able to identify with any of the preceding, viz. :-1. La Reine Catarde, a wild variety, with leaves twice as large as those of the Morus a. rosea, and deeply toothed. This is probably the same as the Foglia zazola, of the Italians. 2. La Reine, a grafted variety, which has shining leaves, and ashcoloured fruit. 3. La Feuille de flocs, also a grafted variety, with very deepgreen leaves, growing in tufts at the extremities of the branches. The fruit, he says, is produced in abundance, but never arrives at maturity. This appears to agree with the Foglia doppia, or double-leaved variety, of the Italian gardeners.
Geography and History. The Morus alba is only found truly wild in China, in the province of Seres, or Serica; it is, however, apparently naturalized in many parts of Asia Minor, and of Europe. It does not embrace so great a geographical range as the Morus nigra, being unable to resist either very great extremes of heat or of cold. In a cultivated state, it is found, as a road-side pollard tree, in many parts of France, Spain, Italy, and in Germany as far north as Frankfort, on the Oder. In England, it is not very common; and it is scarcely to be found in Scotland, even against a wall. As a silk-growing tree, the white mulberry is propagated with tolerable success throughout a great part of Asia and Australia; in all the principal countries of Europe south of the forty-ninth degree of north latitude, including most of the islands of the Mediterranean; in a portion of northern Africa, the Azores, Madeira, and Canary Isles; in nearly all the states of the American union; in California, Mexico, Chili, Peru, Buenos Ayres, Brazil, Caracas, Jamaica, and other parts of the West Indies, the Sandwich Islands, &c. In the south of Europe, the vhite mulberry is grown in plantations by itself, like willows and fruit-trees; also in hedge-rows, and as hedges; but in all cases the plants are kept low, for the convenience of gathering the leaves, without injuring the trees; the greatest height they are suffered to attain being that of a pollard of six feet, which is annually lopped.
The culture and manufacture of silk, like many productions of nature and art, are difficult to trace from their origin. All that we know concerning them, is, that they have flowed to us from the east in a comparative state of perfection. The Seres are mentioned in the oldest Sanscrit books, as a gentlerace, who shunned the rest of mankind, and whose occupation was to attend silkworms. It seems to have been in Asia that silk was first known; and it was from thence that the ancients obtained it, calling it Serica, from the name of the country whence it was supposed to be brought.