Unravelling the tale of  the country’s mulberry tree heritage

Since Roman times mulberries have been planted for their delicious fruit and medicinal virtues.  Morus Londinium, the Foundation’s first mulberry project helped tell and record where London’s trees are today.

mulberry close up berry red
Mulberry trees are often overlooked and even at the height of their fruit season they can remain unnoticed, but they are often ancient survivors from the days when they grew in medieval abbeys and monasteries. Some may even go back to King James I’s attempt to start a silk industry to rival Italy and France.
mulberries conservation foundation green leaves growing garden
The UK’s national collection of Mulberry trees is in the garden of Buckingham Palace, but until the few mulberries outside had been recorded, but the project’s London-wide survey recorded over 700 mature mulberry sites, of which 552 have been verified by the Foundation’s Mulberry expert. Some of these sites list multiple trees so the total number of trees recorded is actually more than 552.
Visit our mulberry website
mulberry landscape tree berry
The public were asked to submit their records including height, girth, variety, access, photos and other information such as the age or historical notes on the sites. All mature mulberries were recorded. The heritage mulberries – those with a particular importance or story to tell – were of most value, however all the verified sites have contributed to the survey to form a better understanding of the mulberry tree population in London.
mulberry sky berry image tree
What next? 
As well as carrying out the survey the Foundation also staged exhibitions at the site of some particularly interesting trees and organised a number of walks which included visits to a number of historic trees led by the mulberry expert Peter Coles.
So much new information was discovered through this project that a book was needed to include it all.  Our mulberry expert Peter Coles’ beautifully written and illustrated Mulberry, published by Reaktion Books, is a delight for existing mulberry enthusiasts, and is bound to make new ones who have yet to discover the enthralling heritage of these often overlooked gems. Many people have joined Peter’s fascinating walks through London, stopping to share in the enthusiasm for his often ancient friends. You can watch his virtual walk to Hogarth’s House and other Chiswick Mulberries, part of the Urban Tree Festival in the 2020 Lockdown, here on YouTube.
Can you help?
Would you like to be an ‘angel’ and invest in the project?  Are you a crowd-funder?  We would welcome anyone who can help us extend the Mulberry Project. Do please contact us, we have many ideas and are ready to go.
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