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Family: Moraceae

Scientific name: Morus alba

Authority: L.

Synonyms: Morus latifolia Poir., Morus tatarica Koidz., Morus atropurpurea Roxb., Morus bullata Balb. ex Loud., Morus byzantina Sieber ex Steud., Morus chinensis Lodd.

Zulu names: amagumence, amatshalo, itshalo, umgumenqe, umgumence, liguncumence, umjikijolo, ujingijolo, umrubheni, umrubheri

Other names: white mulberry (English) wit moerbei (Afrikaans)

Plant description: M. alba is a small tree (or shrub) with broadly ovate leaves with coarsely toothed margin, pubescence, flowers with a spike inflorescence, and edible fruits that turn deep purple when ripe. In South Africa, the tree is widespread and common and in the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (Act 43 of 1983) category list, it is a category 3.


  • The edible fruits are eaten as food. 
  • The fruits are used to make jam, jelly, pie, and beverages. 
  • The leaves are cooked as a leafy green or vegetable.
  • The leaves are used to make tea. 
  • The fruits, leaves and bark are used as expectorants and to treat asthma, colds, cough, bronchitis, and influenza.
  • The fruits are used to treat anemia, fatigue and weakness, and.premature graying of hair. 
  • The fruits are used to treat constipation in the elderly patients,dizziness, tinnitus, and urinary incontinence.
  • The plant is used for wound healing and to treat eye infection and nose bleeding. 
  • The roots are boiled to make imbiza, a tonic that is taken as an anthelmintic, diuretic, laxative, and purgative.
  • The roots are used as enema to treat idliso, food poisoning. 
  • The timber is used in paper making and fuelwood. 
  • The plant is cultivated as a garden ornamental.

Safety precaution:

Using traditional medicine responsibly can enhance your overall health and well-being. Misuse and abuse can lead to complications. You can inquire about the correct use of traditional medicine from a knowledgeable herbalist and practitioner. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine

References and further reading: 

  • Arya, V.S., 1997. Indian Medicinal Plants. Chennai: Orient Longman, p.a65.
  • Butt, M.S., Nazir, A., Sultan, M.T. and Schroën, K., 2008. Morus alba L. nature’s functional tonic. Trends in food science & technology, 19(10), pp.505-512.
  • Devi, B., Sharma, N., Kumar, D. and Jeet, K., 2013. Morus alba Linn: A phytopharmacological review. Int J Pharm Pharm Sci, 5(2), pp.14-8.
  • Long, C., 2005. SiSwati names and uses – Swaziland Flora – Swaziland National Trust Commission, Mbabane.
  • Magwede, K., Van Wyk, B.E. and Van Wyk, A.E., 2019. An inventory of Vhavenḓa useful plants. South African Journal of Botany 122, pp.57–89.. 
  • Mhaskar, K.S., Latter, E.B. and Caius, J.S., 2000. Kirtikar and Basu’s Indian Medicinal Plants, vol. 3. Sri Satguru, New Delhi, India.
  • Nadkarni, K.M., 1976. Indian Materia Medica Popular Prakashan Private Limited.
  • Nel, J.L., Richardson, D.M., Rouget, M., Mgidi, T.N., Mdzeke, N., Le Maitre, D.C., Van Wilgen, B.W., Schonegevel, L., Henderson, L. and Neser, S., 2004. A proposed classification of invasive alien plant species in South Africa: towards prioritizing species and areas for management action: working for water. South African Journal of Science, 100(1), pp.53-64.
  • Ntuli, N.R., Zobolo, A.M., Siebert, S.J. and Madakadze, R.M., 2012. Traditional vegetables of northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: Has indigenous knowledge expanded the menu? African Journal of Agricultural Research 7, pp.6027–6034. 
  • Shabangu, T.P., 2021. A comparative study of Swazi and Zulu traditional plant use at Mkhondo and eDumbe, South Africa. University of Johannesburg (South Africa).

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