Black mulberry (Eng); moral, morera negra (Spa); morera negra, morer, morer de mores (Cat); marguza, martusera, martuts, marugatze beltza (Baq); moreira negra, amoreira negra (Glg); amoreira-preta, amoras-da-horta (Por).
“I will not say that your mulberry trees are dead; but I am afraid they're not alive.”
The black mulberry is a deciduous tree, although it loses its foliage for only a short time. It has no thorns, is average sized and robust looking, and in the Canary Islands it rarely exceeds 10 m in height. It generally has a wide, dense crown and a short, sometimes curved trunk. Its bark is orangey brown, rough, very scaly, and drops off in heavy plates. The leaves are simple, alternate, 6-20 cm in length, with a toothed margin. They are dark coloured and rough on the upper side. The blade is generally heart-shaped but it can sometimes be lobed, making it reminiscent of the fig tree (Ficus carica). The leaves have hairy stalks that exude latex when cut. In spring, the black mulberry produces inconspicuous, unisexual flowers, i.e., either male or female, which join together into compact, elongated clusters. They are usually found on different plants, but sometimes they are separated on the same tree. When the female flowers are fertilised, they become fleshy and give rise to fruits that should really be called infructescences, because they are complex and each small juicy ball is the true fruit. These group together to form a structure similar to a blackberry, known in botany as a sorosis. This tree differs from the white mulberry (Morus alba) by having darker leaves with hairy veins on the underside. The characteristics of its berries are also different: they are larger (2-3 cm long), blackish purple, have a very pleasant bittersweet flavour and almost no stalk.
A very resistant tree that withstands cold climates well and also tolerates urban pollution. The black mulberry requires cool, light soils and prefers somewhat sandy substrates. When established in the wild it prefers to grow on the midslopes, or medianías (zones between altitudes of 600 and 1500 m), on the islands, either on abandoned land or next to other cultivated specimens, as it can 'jump' from one spot to another quite easily.
The black mulberry is originally from western Asia. It is native to Iran and Afghanistan, but has been cultivated for so many years that the limits of its natural range cannot be determined. In the Canary Islands it has become established in the wild on all the islands: El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.