...not the giant peach :)

In an effort to become more independent from mainland Europe
(and perhaps another source of taxation)
King James I wanted to bring the silk industry to England

It's hard to say if the French deliberately misled King James I
by suggesting he plant the black mulberry (Morus nigra)
instead of the white one (Morus alba)
or if he just got the facts wrong

But unknowingly in 1608,
James I fervently issued an edict
encouraging the cultivation of the 'wrong' mulberry tree
as silkworms prefer leaves from the Chinese white mulberry

He offered packets of black mulberry seeds to anyone who would sow them,
making the tree fashionable at the time

Before his reign, few mulberry trees were recorded in England
and today, nearly all mulberry trees in England are of the Morus nigra variety

So although the silkworm industry proved unsuccessful,
James I did leave an arboreal legacy behind

William Shakespeare's home, New Place, in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Isn't this graceful, gnarled tree gorgeous?

It is likely
this one grew from a scion
of the original mulberry Shakespeare planted in 1609
directly from the garden of James I

{ Shakespeare also participated in King James I's coronation procession }

At the least, Shakespeare referred to the mulberry in
Coriolanus and A Midsummer Night's Dream

'Now humble as the ripest mulberry
That will not hold the handling.'
-Coriolanus, Act III, Scene ii

Shakespeare's tree was cut down by a following owner of New Place around 1752,
exasperated by showing the tree to so many visitors

Thankfully descendants of the famous tree remain at Kew Gardens
and again at Shakespeare's New Place

To think the Common Mulberry
has such an uncommon story

- all photos by me -