The Black Mulberry (Maltese: Tuta) is known scientifically as Morus nigra. This tree is actually native of China but was introduced to the Islands in ancient times by the Phoenician settlers because of its fruits, which were appreciated for their refreshing and depurative qualities.
The Black Mulberry is a majestic tree, reaching a height of around 10 to 12 metres, having far-spreading branches that are more or less twisted. Its shady foliage is dark green, heart shaped and covered beneath with short soft hairs. It is a deciduous tree, shedding its leaves at the end of the growing season. The wind-pollinated small and inconspicuous flowers are borne in clusters, where the female flower quickly ripens to form a blackberry shaped edible fruit. Although this fruit is often referred to as a berry, it is actually a number of berries closely packed together. These purplish-blue fruits usually ripen in May until well into the month of August.
Mulberries have many functional uses, which range from the direct use (as they are edible), to the making of jams, syrups and wines, as well as the flavouring and colouring of medicine.
Recently, a long-horned beetle which is well adapted to living on Mulberry trees, was accidently introduced into Malta. And regrettably in certain regions this pest has attacked and killed some old specimens of Black Mulberry.
The Black Mulberry has been declared a protected tree under national legislation and one should not prune, fell or uproot this tree without previously obtaining the necessary permits from the Competent Authorities.