Mulberry lottery money won

Some of London's oldest trees are being targeted by conservationists who have won lottery funding to plant and raise awareness of community trees.

credit: Peter Coles
credit: Peter Coles

The campaign, Morus Londinium, is the latest from the Conservation Foundation, which has tapped into support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Morus, the species name for Mulberry, originated in Persia and was planted in London as far back as 17th century. Some, both black and white mulberries, are still living.

The project includes replanting in royal palaces and other sites such as Chelsea Physic Garden where 100 King James I mulberries, first propagated from a tree planted by the monarch in the 17th century, will be planted.

Project manager James Coleman said the £69,000 award from HLF would be spent on research, tours throughout the year and a half of the project, talks and replanting initiatives.

"The Romans brought the tree over for its nutritional benefits and King James revived it for the silk industry.

"There are lots of hybrids, which helped the genetic diversity of the population and may have contributed to its longevity at a time when other trees are suffering all sorts of problems.

"We are trying to record them, as the National Biodiversity Network lists only eight, but we know there are many more."

The new project follows other Conservation Foundation’s campaigns including Ulmus Londinium, Ulmus Maritime and We Love Yew, all supported by the HLF.

Mulberry enthusiast and Goldsmiths College lecturer Peter Coles approached the foundation last year with a plea for it to help promote the story of the mulberry.

The Morus Londinium project will be launched with a guided mulberry walk on 31 May, led by Coles during Chelsea Fringe and London Tree Week.

The tour will take in some of the Square Mile’s mulberry sites before ending up near St Paul’s for mulberry-themed refreshments.

Many of London’s mulberries were planted to support the silk industry, but they were also used to treat blood and kidneys, the premature greying of hair and skin issues.

They are used by London’s Iranian, Turkish, Indian and Syrian communities while the national collection grows in the garden of Buckingham Palace.

Morus Londinium will involve a number of initiatives over the next two years and people with a mulberry within the M25 are invited to add it to the foundation’s records.

Conservation Foundation director and co-founder David Shreeve said: "We are delighted to have secured more Heritage Lottery Fund support for our work.

"This project could create a lot of interest from people including me who had previous hardly noticed the mulberries and their fascinating heritage."

For more details email

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