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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Genus: Morus (mulberries)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Rosales > Family: Moraceae

About 15 species, native to temperate and subtropical regions of the Old and New World, with one species, Morus mesozygia, native to southern Africa, three species that are naturalised and one further species that are cultivated in the region. The usual mulberry growing in people's gardens is Morus nigra (Common or Black Mulberry).

Species native to southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Morus mesozygia (African mulberry, Tongaland mulberry)

Species naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Morus alba (White mulberry)

Native from central Asia to China. This species is a declared Category 3 invader plant in southern Africa.


Morus australis (Chinese mulberry)

Native to China, Japan and Taiwan. Occurs as an escape in Zimbabwe, especially in and around Harare.

Morus japonica

Naturalised in Mpumalanga.


Other species, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).

Morus nigra (Black mulberry, Common mulberry)

Native to Asia.



While in the plant kingdom, the latin scientific name Morus refers to mulberries, the same name in the animal kingdom is used for the seabirds called gannets. Historically there have been different rules of nomenclature for naming plants and animals. Within each group, genus level synonyms were not permitted but they were permitted across kingdoms. With the development of large computer databases covering all life forms (e.g. GBIF), these synonyms do pose a problem and it is now recommended in the nomenclatural rules that new genus names are chosen to be unique across all forms of life.

Ecological interactions

For further ecological interactions applying to this genus, see under individual species.


  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Schmidt, E., Lötter, M. and McCleland, W. 2002. Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Jacana, Johannesburg.