Not everything that comes from China hurts our economy. Chinese Mulberry Tree (Morus Alba) or Silk Worm Tree or Shatoot as it is popularly called in Jaipur is one such Chinese creation. Shahtoot is a small deciduous tree which sheds its leaves from December to January and bears fruit in March and April. Some popular books at VSSS library tell us that it can grow on a variety of soils but does that only when plenty of water is available and if the soil is well-drained. It is been cultivated in India from so long that it has been completely naturalized now, however it doesn’t live long and lasts, in normal conditions, only 20 to 30 years. I wonder if that is because of its China connection.
Shahtoot (Morus Alba) is extraordinary for Jaipur residents like me. It is a fruit bearing tree meandering here and there within the city periphery with no vigil and plucking regulations. Market seems to be disenchanted with this Chinese Mulberry or Russian Mulberry tree – good enough reason for the names it has got.
The fruits start to develop early in April and continue till May. We had a bunch of trees outside our school and I can now understand that why school felt much better at the start of the session. The fruit is actually a fruit compound comprising multiple individual swelled up female flowers. It is a sweet and juicy fruit with black or reddish pink color.
For the younger trees, the bark is lighter in color and smoother in texture but it gets darker and rougher with age. Leaves are oval with a heart shaped base and pointy tip.
Unlike many other fruit bearing trees, Shahtoot is still a common man tree. It doesn’t mind being named after a worm and continues to be a collectivist tree in an increasingly capitalistic world. It is a rebel tree that doesn’t wish to live long and desires to give back whatever it has.