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movement of all 1755b

Relax, no murder has been committed – the stain is mulberry juice.

We were lucky to be given the key to a secret courtyard in Bristol which is filled by a mature Mulberry tree – Morus nigra – hung with fruit. The dark, black-red fruit are like loganberries, sweet, juicy and easily crushed. Our scrumpings went into a glamorous, late summer party cake, got crushed into juice and eaten with muesli for breakfast – local, versatile fruit full of vitamins!

Mulberries are great trees, though spreading and dense canopied which means they are too overpowering for most gardens. Used in the wider landscape they can be statuesque, coarse textured and as demonstrated provide great crops of fruit. The Romans introduced Mulberries to Britain and they have thrived here, being especially common in the Royal Parks. Since 2000 the Queen has been the holder of the national collection of mulberries at Buckingham Palace, and in the early 1600s her predecessor James I had aspirations to build an industry which would compete with the French silk industry. He commanded the planting of many mulberry trees to develop silk production in Britain. Sadly the species planted was Morus nigra whose leaves are too leathery for the silk worm to digest, he should have selected Morus alba, so his attempts at commercial take-over fell flat but the heritage of his trees planted over 400 years ago lives on at the Chelsea Physic Garden. There one tree in particular is said to have originated from the trees originally planted by James I.

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