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Government Of Assam Handloom Textiles & Sericulture

Food Plants of Silkworm

Host plant of Mulberry Silkworm

Host plant of Mulberry silkworm

Mulberry silkworm is a monophagous insect which reared on the leaves of mulberry only; the morin present in the leaves helps to attract the silkworm.

Classification of mulberry:


  • Division (Phylum): Phanerodgams (flowering plants)
  • Sub-Division (Sub-phylum):Anglosperms
  • Class: Dicots
  • Order:Urticales
  • Family: Moracease
  • Genus: Morus
  • Species: Morus alba


Species and improved cultivars of mulberry

The important species which are cultivated for food are Morus alba Linn, M. indica Linn. M. lavogata Wall., M. bombycis Koidz. are widely available, while Morus australis Poir and Morus aciosa Griff. are endemic to this region. In addition, a number of improved cultivars of mulberry have been evolved by the Research Institutes of Central Silk Board, which are found to be popular in the field. Among these, mention may be made of V1, Kanva-2, S1, S799, TR10, BC259 and S54. Some improved cultivars from Japan and other countries have also been introduced in India with encouraging results. Some of these are Ichinose, Goshoeorami, Kosen (Japan) and Limoncine (Italy).
There are at least 24 known different species of mulberry but there may be as many as 68 many occurring in Asia.
Black mulberry (Morus nigra) occurs naturally in Western Asia and the Middle East, and Red mulberry (Morus rubra) is a native of North America.

Mulberry cultivation and management

Mulberry is a hardy plant capable of thriving under a variety of agro-climatic conditions wide range of soils, but best growth is obtained in loamy to clayey loam soils. The mulberry plant can tolerate slightly acidic conditions in the soil. In the case of too acidic soils with pH below 5, necessary corrective measures through application of Dolomite or Lime and in the case of alkaline soils, application of Gypsum for correction of the soil. Mulberry thrive well upto about 4,000 feet, above which growth will be retarded because of the cooler temperature.
Mulberry is grown under both rain-fed and irrigated conditions. Mulberry generally thrives well in the soil having 40-45% water holding capacity.

Inter cropping

Mulberry is well suited for intercropping with a number of vegetables and can provide farmers an additional income of Rs 10,000-50,000 per hectare depending on the vegetable crop used, spinach being the most profitable combination.

Yield of mulberry leaves

An average of about 25 MT to 30 MT of leaf (without twigs) can be harvested per annum per hectare under row system of cultivation.

Pests and diseases of mulberry

Apart from the freaks of nature, such as floods, draught, snow, or forst, damage is also cause to mulberry by insects and plants pests. Life history of more than 20 insects pests have been studied in Japan. It is also stated that more than 500 fungal and bacterial diseases attacking mulberry are known but that about 30 kinds occur in a severe form, and that 7-8 diseases cause heavy damage. In India pests and diseases are fewer probable on account of the climate and soil.

Insect Pests

Glyphodes Phyloalis (Pyralideae) is a serious pest causing heavy damage to late autumn crop. Eggs are laid on the under surface of the leaves during May and June.
1. Scale insects
2. Weevils
3. Stem borers
4. Root borers
5. Tukra disease