The mulberry tree (Morus alba) is probably the best known tree in China. According to tradition, cultivating it goes back to old times; Si-ling, the emperor of Huangti (2.967 A.C.) taught his nation how to breed silk worms fed by mulberry leaves.
All parts of the tree (green shoots, leaves, stalks, roots and fruits) have been used in tradictional chinese medicine for thousands of years for the treatment of many illnesses, either on their own or as components of many herbal remedies. Moreover, in Asia, from one year old mulberry trees people extract fibre to make textile materials.
The wood from older mulberry trees is hard, long-lasting and tough against woodworm; for this reason, it has always been valuable for carpentry.
Its fruits have been widely used in the mountain areas of Central Asia; it was introduced in Constantinople in the time of Justinian (in the VI century) when the monks took with them silk worms, a fact that gave the name to the famous Silk Route; hence, its cultivation started 4.600 years ago by the Chinese, who kept the secret of manufacturing natural silk to themselves. It is known as the most clever tree, because it blooms late and it is the first to give fruit.