Morus alba

& Morus nigra

White mulberry                                                                                             Μουριά

Moraceae - mulberry family                                                                                     Dicot.


Although the white mulberry tree (Morus alba) is not native, it has played an important role in the history of Greece. It is the food tree of the silk worm and formed the basis of an important Greek industry from the sixth to the twentieth century. The trees were widely planted throughout Greece, particularly in Macedonia and the Peloponnese. Since the introduction of artificial textiles the production of silk has declined and along with it the importance of the white mulberry. The trees are still planted throughout Greece as valuable shade trees in village squares, along city streets and outside tavernas.

Black mulberry, also planted as shade trees or for their juicy fruits fruits were well known to ancient Greeks and regarded as having medicinal properties.

Sadly a wasp with a wood boring larva has been introduced to Greece from China, resulting in the loss of hundreds of mulberry trees in Athens. The insect also causes damage to apple and sweet chestnut trees.

Morus from ancient greek name for mulberry - morea

albus - botanical latin for white

An Emperor, Two Monks & the Silk Worm

Silk imported from China along the Silk Road, was highly prized in Byzantium but it was becoming increasingly expensive. Emperor Justinian arranged for two monks, who had observed the intricacies of silk production in China, to bring back silk worms with them. They did this by concealing silk worm eggs or young larvae in their bamboo walking sticks and cared tenderly for their valuable cargo on their return journey. The silk worms, fed on white mulberry trees, already imported from China, spread rapidly throughout the Empire and the Greek silk industry was born.

Myrtus communis
Greek myrtleMyrtus_communis.html
Juniperus oxycedrus
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