The Moraceae, Mulberry or Fig Family is a medium to large family with approximately 40 genera and 1200 species more or less. These plants are monoecious or dioecious and include large trees, shrubs, lianas and only a few herb/forbs. The majority of species are distributed throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions while others are spread out across the temperate regions including the United States.
Common shared characteristics include the following; alternate leaves (most often), production of latex, (milky sap) or rubber, 2 carpels, inconspicuous compound flowers and compound fruits.
By far, the largest genus in this family is Ficus, with approximately 841 species. The next largest genus is Dorstenia has 117 species. Size-wise, the next two genera are Artocarpus with 64 species and Naucleopsis with 23 species. The remaining genera have relatively small numbers of species. North America has 15 genera native and introduced.
One of the most significant members of this family is Ficus carica which is grown for both culinary and landscape purposes. Figs can be eaten dried, fresh and are also used in making jam. There are many cultivars including Brown Turkey, Black Mission and Kadota. Other well know family members include the Mulberry Trees, Osage-orange Tree, the Banyan Tree and ornamental figs such as the Weeping Fig, Fiddle-leaf and Rubber breadfruit, mulberry and Osage-oranges.
Several species of the genus Morus are cultivated and used as the natural food for the silkworm for ultimate use in the silk-trade.