Animal feed resources information system

Black mulberry (Morus nigra)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 

Black mulberry, common mulberry, small-fruited mulberry, sycamine [English]; swartmoerbei [Afrikaans], hei sang, mûrier noir, mûrier à petits fruits [French], schwarzer maulbeerbaum [German], amoreira negra [Portuguese], moral negro, morera negra [Spanish]; Itim na moras [Tagalog]; Kara dut [Turkish]; dâu tằm đen [Vietnamese]; توت أسود [Arabic]; Թթենի սև [Armenian]; 黑桑 [Chinese]; شاه‌توت [Farsi]; תות שחור [Hebrew]; Шелковица чёрная [Russian]

Taxonomic information 

Morus laciniata Mill., Morus siciliana Mill., Morus scabra Marett (non Vidd.) (Chukhina, 2015).

Related feed(s) 

Black mulberry (Morus nigra) is a close relative of white mulberry (Morus alba). It is a small deciduous tree,  mainly cultivated for its edible fruits. The leaves of the black mulberry can be used to feed silkworms but the worms do not produce the same quality silk. The leaves are used as cattle fodder (Alonzo, 1999; Göhl, 1981)


Black mulberry (Morus nigra) is a dark green coloured deciduous shrub, medium-sized tree, growing up to 6-9 (-15-35) m in height which has a broad, dense spreading crown. The trunk is short. The leaves are petiolate, leathery (scabrous on the upper face and pubescent on the lower), large (5-16 x 5-16 cm), variable in shape: whole or palmately lobate. The leaf blades are assymetrical, broadly ovate, deeply cordiform at the base and shortly acuminate on top, obtusely dentate along the edge. Flowers are small, unattractive, clustered in catkin-like inflorescences. Fruits are 1.5-2.5cm in length and 3 cm in diameter, black, glossy, sweetish sour, juicy, very tasty (Chukhina, 2015; Alonzo, 1999; Burkill, 1985).

Black mulberry tree is smaller than white mulberry tree. Its crown is smaller and more regular than that of white mulberry and its shoots and branches have a bright yellow colour.  The fruits of black mulberry ripen earlier and are smaller, juicier than those of white mulberry. They are also tastier (Turskienè, 2013). 


Black mulberry is mainly cultivated for its sweet and tasty fruits that are edible and are the best-flavoured of the genus. The fruits can be consumed fresh, and used to make jams, confectionaries and stewed fruit. It can be blended with other fruits like pears and apples (Orwa et al., 2009). Leaves are used as feed for silkworms, but result in coarser silk than when worms are fed white mulberry. They are thus used to feed rabbits and cattle and small ruminants are know to browse on black mulberry (Orwa et al., 2009). The wood of black mulberry is very hard and good for woodcraft. The bark is used to produce cardboard, paper and rope (Chukhina, 2015). Black mulberry is also reported to have several medicinal properties (Alonzo, 1999)

The purple-black berries are large and juicy, with a good balance of sweetness and tartness that makes them the best-flavoured species of the genus. The ripe fruit contains about 9% sugar, with malic and citric acid. Berries can be eaten raw or dried, or used in pies, tarts, puddings, conserves, jams, or sweetened and pureed as a sauce; slightly unripe fruit is best for pies and tarts. Mulberries blend well with other fruit, especially pears and apples. The fruit is sometimes pounded to a fine powder and mixed with the flour for bread.


Black mulberry is thought to have originated from western Asia (Iran and Afghanistan), there and in the Mediterranean region (The Balkans and Italy), it is cultivated since ancient times (Chukhina, 2015; Alonzo, 1999). Black mulberry is now naturalized and cultivated worldwide (Alonzo, 1999). It has been introduced to Malaysia and West Africa (Alonzo, 1999; Burkill, 1985). It is grown in Europe as far North as the South of Sweden and Finland (PFAF, 2019; Turskienè, 2013). It is referred to as an invasive species in Parana state in Brazil (CABI, 2018).

Black mulberry is particularly suited for places with hot and dry summers but is also cultivated in tropical humid regions, above 1000 m and up to 2000 m altitude and in places where annual rainfall is between 500 and 2000 mm with a dry period of 2 to 6 months (CABI, 2018; Orwa et al., 2009; Alonzo, 1999). It is less cold hardy than other mulberry species but requires short chilling period and can withstand temperatures down to -10°C (CABI, 2018). Black mulberry does better on rich, well-drained soils with neutral or slightly alkaline pH, and in full-light, wind-sheltered environment (CABI, 2018; Chukhina, 2015). For cultivation, it is recommended to avoid shallow, chalk or gravelly soils. However, it tolerates infertile soils and can occur on stony and turfy slopes, and along riversides and it is possible for the species to escape from cultivation (Chukhina, 2015; CABI, 2018). Black mulberry is somewhat shade resitant and drought resistant (Ecocrop, 2019).

Forage management 

Black mulberry tree can be propagated by seeds or cuttings (Tyler, 2019).

Black mulberry tree is a fast growing species that requires light and adequate space (at least 4.5 m between each tree) (Orwa et al., 2009). However it is reported to take time to fruit (15 years in the UK) (Fern, 2014). Black mulberry is prone to bleeding when it is cut. It is thus advised not to prune the tree heavily except for removing dead wood and thinning branches. Pruning should be done while the tree is dormant and cuts should be of less than 5 cm in diameter since the plant do not heal over (Fern, 2014

If black mulberry is propagated by seeds, the seeds should be used immediately after fruit ripening and should be cold scarified prior to sowing. The seedlings should be planted in late spring or early summer when the soils warms up and after the last expected frosts. Black mulberry is a long-lived tree that can be rejuvenated through careful pruning and cultivation (Orwa et al., 2009)

If black mulberry is propagated by cuttings, cuttings with one bud should be taken from half ripe wood or mature wood and buried at 3/4 of their length in the soil, in a sheltered position so that they can root readily (Fern, 2014). It is reported that black mulberry does not propagate vegetatively as easily as white mulberry (Tyler, 2019).

Environmental impact 

Agroforestry species

Black mulberry (Morus nigra) can be used in agroforestry as a windbreak, live fence, and shelter or shade tree (CABI, 2018).

Birds "trap"

Black mulberry is sometimes planted near cherry trees, so that the birds which are fond of mulberries do not come and eat the cherries (Orwa et al., 2009).

Invasive weed

Outside its native range, black mulberry is referred to as a weed in Spain, southeastern Australian bush land, and South Africa and to as an invasive species in Brazil (CABI, 2018) This invasiveness can be attributed to traits like longevity, rapid growth rate, tolerance for droughts, infertile and rocky soil, and resistance to cold, its easy seed dispersal by birds and other animals attracted to its sweet, edible fruits (CABI, 2018). It is also prone to escape from cultivation (CABI, 2018).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

The condensed tannin contents of mulberry species are much lower than 1% of DM  (Güven, 2012).


Though it is very close to white mulberry there is hardly no literature on the use of black mulberry foliage as forage for livestock.

Black mulberry was reported to have good forage characteristics and to be one of the 3 preferred tree species among Malvaviscus arboreus, and Hibiscusrosa sinensis in Matanzas, Cuba, specially by sheep (Toral et al., 2001). When black mulberry was compared to other mulberry species (Morus multicaulis, M. cathyana and M. indica), it ranked second in preference of goats and it was reported that all mulberry species od the study had suitable forage characteristics for goat feeding (Ginting et al., 2014).

In vitro gas production was measured for black mulberry foliage and other mulberry species with cow rumen juice. It was shown that gas production from black mulberry was the highest of all species after 48h. Only Morus alba var. pendula had higher gas production after 96h. From these observation it was estimated that ME in black mulberry was 10.46 MJ/kg and OMD was 71.28% values that ranked second after Morus alba var. pendula (Güven, 2012).



Though no information could be found on the use of black mulberry (Morus nigra) foliage in pig feeding, its proximity with white mulberry suggests it could also be used as a feed for pigs.


Though no information could be found on the use of black mulberry (Morus nigra) foliage in poultry feeding, its chemical proximity with white mulberry suggests it could be fed in a similar manner as white mulberry to poultry species.


International literature on the use of black mulberry leaves in rabbit feeding is very scarce in comparison with the number of publications dedicated to the use of white mulberry leaves. However Morus nigra leaves are traditionally used in the North of Italy by small farmers to feed their rabbits (Uncini Manganelli et al., 2001). Similarly, in Bulgaria, leaves of the different Morus spp. cultivated locally, Morus nigra included, are also used to feed rabbits (Ichim et al., 2008). In Nigeria, leaves of the different types of Morus spp. are used with success to feed rabbits without distinction of the different species (Bamikole et al., 2005).

The chemical composition of leaves of Morus nigra and of Morus alba cultivated in the same conditions is similar : 16-18% proteins or 19-22% NDF in DM (Güven, 2012; Ercisli et al., 2007)). The situation is the same when Morus nigra leaves and those of other mulberry species are compared (Hutasoit et al., 2017). Studies conducted in Mozambique where fresh black mulberry (Morus nigra) leaves were used as forage distributed regularly to rabbits in addition to low-fiber concentrate, confirm that these leaves had no negative effect on rabbit health during the experiments and are, therefore, recommendable as an alternative source of crude fibre (Demeterova et al., 1991; Demeterova, 1998).

According to these different remarks, it is reasonable to consider that black mulberry leaves can be used to feed rabbits in the same conditions than white mulberry leaves: a forage with a moderate level of fibre, a relatively high content of proteins rich in lysine but a poor content of sulphur amino acids, and a source of calcium but not of phosphorus (Lebas, 2013; Koyuncu et al., 2014).

Other species 


Silworms could be fed on black mulberry but they produced lower quality silk  (lower maintenance yield, lower weight of cocoon, lower filamen weight and lower rolling strength than in white mulberry (Nanang Sasmita, 2018).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 38.3 1
Crude protein % DM 17.6 1
Crude fibre % DM 7.4 1
Ether extract % DM 11.5 1
Ash % DM 20.4 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.4 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 21.5 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.3 1
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Arginine % protein 5.8 1
Glycine % protein 5.6 1
Histidine % protein 2.1 1
Isoleucine % protein 4.6 1
Leucine % protein 8.7 1
Lysine % protein 4.2 1
Methionine % protein 1.8 1
Phenylalanine % protein 5.5 1
Threonine % protein 2.8 1
Tyrosine % protein 4.0 1
Valine % protein 5.7 1

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Gaulier, 1965; Malik et al., 1967

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:48

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/122 Last updated on May 7, 2019, 16:19

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