I first came across mulberries, sticky-sweet and with a truly knockout aroma, when I was a student at Kew Gardens. I would hunt out the trees each summer and scoff their deep-purple fruit until my hands were stained bright burgundy.
Yet despite being one of the oldest of British fruits, the delicious mulberry has largely disappeared from UK diets – and sadly with pretty good reason. The fruit are so soft they bruise at the slightest touch, making getting them from the garden to kitchen in perfect shape tricky, let alone surviving the rigours of industrial, long-haul transport. Even if you grow your own, the trees reputedly take up to eight or nine years to get up to full production, longer than pretty much any other fruit crop, and even then are only in season for a few weeks a year.
Wouldn’t it be great if some ingenious plant breeder created a new variety that could slash the time needed before harvest, extend the cropping season and even improve total yield? Well, according to a Devon trial that I participated in last year, it seems they have.
Mulberry ‘Charlotte Russe’ is a new, super-fast-growing hybrid form that astonishingly is capable of fruiting in the same year, creating not a towering tree but a neat 1.5m suckering bush. Its comparatively small size means it is a far more practical option in our ever-shrinking plots and will even grow well in a pot on a patio or large balcony.
Bush telegraph: the word about the ‘Charlotte Russe’ mulberry is spreading.
Despite being described as a variety of Morus nigra, the traditional black mulberry, its appearance strongly suggests it is an interspecies hybrid that crosses two or more mulberry species. This would explain its ridiculous growth rate and early fruiting, combined with its astonishingly long season. In the Devon trial this fruited from late May right up until September, making it one of the longest seasons of any fruit crop I can think of.
This is because interspecies crosses often exhibit a phenomenon known as “hybrid vigour”, where the offspring of two different species tend to be significantly more prolific, fast-growing and resilient than either of their parents. As a consequence of their diverse parentage, these hybrids often tend also to be sterile, which gives this crop another benefit: the berries lack seeds, making them (for many people) far better eating.
Plants are fully hardy and self-fertile and will produce the best crops in a sunny spot in rich well-drained soil. So far this brand new variety has only been tested in the UK for one season, but the results have been pretty exceptional, and if you’d like to try it out for yourself, limited quantities are currently stocked by Suttons Seeds. In my opinion this is a new crop that deserves many more trials across the country.
Email James at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Botanygeek
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- Mulberry Tree Care – Learn How To Grow Mulberry Trees
- Growing Mulberry Fruit Trees
- How to Grow Mulberry Trees
- How to Care for a Mulberry Tree
- How to Grow Mulberries
- 8 Best Benefits of Mulberries
- What are Mulberries?
- Nutritional Value
- Health Benefits
- Table Of Contents
- What Are Mulberries?
- History Of Mulberries
- Why Are Mulberries Good?
- Nutrition Data Of Mulberries
- Health Benefits Of Mulberries
- 1. Improve Digestive Health
- 2. Lower Cholesterol
- 3. Control Blood Sugar Levels
- 4. Reduce Cancer Risk
- 5. Improve Blood Circulation
- 6. Cure Anemia
- 7. Better Heart Health
- 8. Good For Vision
- 9. Promote Brain Health
- 10. Improve Immunity
- 11. Build Bone Tissue
- 12. Rich Source Of Antioxidants
- 13. Prevent Flu And Cold
- 14. Improve Liver Health
- 15. Are An Anti-Inflammatory Agent
- Benefits Of Mulberries For Skin
- Benefits Of Mulberries For Your Hair
- Where To Buy The Mulberry Fruit?
- How To Incorporate Mulberries Into Your Diet?
- Uses of Mulberries
- How To Select And Store Mulberries?
- Mulberry Recipes
- Facts About Mulberries
- Side Effects of Mulberries
- Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
- Mo’ Mulberry — A guide to probably everything you need to know about growing Mulberry
- The differences between Red, Black and White Mulberry
- White Mulberry — Morus alba
- Where to Plant
- Feeding, Irrigation and Care
- Potential Problems
- Mulberry Uses
- Mulberry Yields
- Mulberry Coppice/Pollard
- Mulberry Polycultures
- Agroforestry Potential Of Mulberry
- Mulberry Cultivars
- White Mulberry — Morus alba — ‘Vratza 24’
- Mulberry cultivars — Biomass and Fodder Plants
- White Mulberry — Morus alba — ‘Kokuso 27’
- Japanese Mulberry — Morus latifolia — ‘Kokuso 21’
- To order some Mulberry cultivars for delivery this winter contact us at [email protected] –
- How to Harvest Mulberries
- Growing Mulberries
- Harvesting Mulberries
- Cold Hardy Mulberries for Zone 4
Mulberry Tree Care – Learn How To Grow Mulberry Trees
Mulberry trees (Morus spp.) enjoyed popularity in years past as ornamental shade trees as well as for their copious edible fruit, which can be eaten raw or made into luscious preserves, pies and wine. Interested in learning about how to grow mulberry trees? Read out all about growing mulberry fruit trees and mulberry tree care.
Growing Mulberry Fruit Trees
While people love mulberry fruit, birds also love the berries and the tree is a beacon that attracts dozens of, ahem, messy guests. The tree also has an unwelcome habit of becoming invasive. Unfortunately, this brought the growing of mulberry fruit trees to a screeching halt in any but the most rural areas.
Mulberry trees do have redeeming qualities, though, and one of the most outstanding is the minimal care they require. Before we learn about how to care for mulberry trees, here’s a brief synopsis of the three types of mulberry trees most commonly grown.
- Black mulberry – The most flavorful berries come from the black mulberry (Morus nigra). These trees are native to western Asia and are only adaptable to USDA zone 6 and warmer.
- Red mulberry – Hardier than black mulberries, red mulberries (Morus rubra) are native to North America where they thrive in deep rich soils found along bottomlands and streams.
- White mulberry – White mulberries (Morus alba tatarica) were imported from China, introduced into colonial America for silkworm production. White mulberries have since naturalized and hybridized with the native red mulberry.
How to Grow Mulberry Trees
Mulberry trees bear small, unremarkable blooms that become plentiful fruits that look much akin to a slender blackberry. The berries ripen in stages and drop from the tree as they mature. The trees are hardy to USDA zones 4/5 to 8 depending upon the variety. They prefer full sun and rich soil but will tolerate part shade and a variety of soils. They are easy to transplant, salt tolerant and perfect for erosion control, not to mention the delicious berries. Some cultivars are wind-resistant and make wonderful windbreaks.
Deciduous trees, all three species attain various sizes. White mulberry can grow to 80 feet, red mulberry around 70 feet and the smaller black mulberry may get to 30 feet in height. Black mulberries can live for hundreds of years, while red mulberry maxes out at 75 years of age.
Mulberry trees should be planted in full sun with no less than 15 feet between trees, ideally in warm, well-draining soil such as deep loam. Don’t plant them near a sidewalk unless you don’t mind the staining or the potential tracking in of squashed berries (of course, if this is a problem for you, there is a fruitless mulberry variety too!). Once the tree has established, there is very little additional mulberry tree care required.
How to Care for a Mulberry Tree
There really isn’t too much to worry about with this hardy specimen. The trees are fairly drought tolerant but will benefit from some irrigation during the dry season.
Mulberries do well without additional fertilization, but a 10-10-10 application, once per year will keep them healthy. Mulberries are even primarily free from most pests and disease.
Pruning Mulberry Trees
Prune young trees into a tidy form by developing a set of main branches. Prune lateral branches to 6 leaves in July to facilitate the growth of spurs near the main limbs.
Do not prune heavily since mulberries are prone to bleeding at the cuts. Avoid cuts of more than 2 inches, which will not heal. If you prune when the tree is in its dormancy, bleeding is less severe.
Thereafter, only judicious pruning of mulberry trees is necessary, really only to remove dead or overcrowded branches.
How to Grow Mulberries
Mulberries have been cultivated since ancient times. The black mulberry (Morus nigra) is native to Iran and can be exceptionally long-lived, bearing fruit for centuries. The white mulberry (M. alba) was the species used in the silk trade to feed silkworms.
Planning the crop
Mulberries are particularly tough and unfussy. Only in really cold districts will they fail to thrive. They can be grown either as bushes or standard trees. Some varieties of the latter eventually achieve a height of 10m or more, which is too big for most modern gardens. Varieties that reach half that size are available.
How many to grow– Mulberries are self-fertile, and a single tree would be ample for most families.
Varieties– The two species are the black mulberry, which produces fine dark fruit, and the white mulberry, with pale fruit that is relatively tasteless. There are some excellent culinary varieties: Hicks Everbearing; Hicks Fancy; Johnson; Downing; Stubbs, best suited to warm districts; Black English, not exceeding 5 m; and the very long fruiting Black Persian.
The usual way to acquire a mulberry is by purchasing a young tree from a nursery. Most are grown in containers; plant any time the weather is suitable. Plant the young tree in an open, sunny position in well-manured soil, taking particular care not to damage the roots. Avoid planting near paths as the fruit is messy.
Soil: Mulberries need a well-drained, preferably loamy and slightly acidic soil with an ideal pH of 6-6.5. They generally need little fertiliser if the soil conditions are right. An annual dose of slow-release granular fertiliser should be all that’s needed.
Raising new plants: Take a cutting from a friend’s tree in either autumn or early spring, preferably a 30 cm cutting that has some two-year-old wood at the base. Plant the cutting deeply so that all but two or three buds are buried below ground. Alternatively, you could try rooting longer, larger branches, as they have a good chance of success, too. Be sure to trim off any lateral branches and bury about half the main branch in the soil. Large branches can be planted in the position where the tree is to grow, but shorter cuttings are better grown in a nursery bed for a year or two until they are well rooted. Avoid using any shoots that are growing from near the base of the original tree. The more desirable black mulberry was sometimes grafted onto a white mulberry, and the basal shoots may therefore be of the less desirable white species.
Pruning: Mulberries tend to bleed when cut, so avoid heavy pruning. Remove dead wood or inward-growing branches that rub against neighbouring branches in late autumn to early spring.
Pests and diseases
Birds may strip much of the crop of ripe fruit unless the tree is netted. The main disease is canker.
Harvesting and storing
The best way to gather mulberries is to wait until they ripen in early autumn, then spread a cloth or large sheet of plastic beneath the branches and shake the tree gently. Any unripe fruit can remain on the tree to be gathered later.
Mulberry trees are usually fairly low maintenance once established, provided they’re in a sunny spot and grown in a warm area. If you live in a cold place then your mulberry tree will not thrive.
Although generally hardy, mulberry trees also need to be watered in dry weather – otherwise the fruit they bear will drop before it’s ripe and may have a dry taste. If this happens, try going without fertiliser for a while and see if this improves the mulberries’ juiciness. Note that mulberry trees often do not need fertiliser.
If the wrong climate is not an issue, try pruning the tree once fruiting has finished. This might kickstart the plant into producing plumper mulberries next season. Also remove any dead limbs or inward growing branches to ensure healthy regrowth and allow sunlight to penetrate the whole plant.
Remember that some mulberry trees grown from seed can take a decade or so to bear fruit. So if all else fails, you may just need to be patient while your mulberry tree matures.
By Julie Christensen
Native to China and Japan, the white mulberry tree (Morus alba) has been cultivated for thousands of years there, where it is the preferred food source of silk worms. In the early 1800s, enterprising settlers brought white mulberry trees to the U.S., hoping to start a silk industry here. Unfortunately, silk production in the United States was prohibitively expensive and the venture failed.
Those white mulberry trees and their descendants can still be found growing wild in parts of the U.S. White mulberries are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. They grow in almost any soil, but prefer full sun and well-draining, rich, slightly acidic soil. Some species self-seed prolifically and the plant is invasive in mild, moist areas.
Red mulberry trees (Morus rubrum) are native to the United States and can be found growing in shaded woodland areas and along streams and creeks. Hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, these trees are more finicky about their growing conditions than white mulberries. They’ll grow in full sun, but they really prefer partial shade and rich, moist soil.
Black mulberry (Morus nigra) is native to Iran and grows only in the mild climates of USDA zones 7 through 10. It tolerates a bit more drought than the other mulberry species, and needs full sun and warmth.
Before you plant mulberry trees, consider your landscaping goals. Most mulberry trees reach a height of 40 feet or so. Although they have interesting, glossy leaves, they don’t have a particularly outstanding form, although weeping and dwarf varieties are available.
Most people who grow mulberries grow them for their fruit, which resembles large blackberries in shape. The fruit is very sweet and mild, with the flavor varying among various species and cultivars. It is typically used as you would other berries – eaten fresh, in pies or in preserves.
Mulberry fruit ripens to white, red, purple or black. When ripe, it falls from the tree. Birds love mulberries, so you’ll have some competition for the harvest. The fruit doesn’t ship well and isn’t produced commercially, but it makes a fine addition to the home garden.
Keep in mind, though, that mulberry fruit is very messy.Because it drops when ripe, it can stain patios, cars and other surfaces. It can also be brought in the house on the bottom of your shoes. If you decide to plant mulberries, place them at the back of the garden, away from foot traffic. Plan to harvest them daily as they ripen to keep down the mess.
Planting Mulberry Trees
When choosing mulberry tree, make sure you buy a species adapted to your region. White and red mulberries will live for up to 75 years, while black mulberries can live for 300 years or more. Most mulberry cultivars are self-fertile, but a few need both a male and female plant. Be sure to ask your producer.
Plant the tree in an area that gets full sun. Dig a hole as deep and twice as wide as the rootball. Set the tree in the hole and fill the hole half-full with soil. Add 2 gallons of water and allow the water to drain. Continue to fill the hole completely with soil, tamping it down firmly with your foot.
Once planted, water the mulberry tree at least once per week while it becomes established. Water it more in dry hot weather, so the soil stays moist 2 inches beneath the soil surface. Once established, water as often as needed to keep the soil slightly moist. If the tree sits in an irrigated lawn, you probably won’t need to supply additional water.
Mulberries produce fruit on new wood. Prune the trees in winter or early spring before new growth appears. Prune mulberries to control growth and remove dead and diseased branches. You don’t need to open the canopy as you would orchard fruits and only minimal pruning is needed.
Fertilize the trees in spring with 1 pound 10-10-10 fertilizer spread under the tree’s canopy.
Pests and Disease
Mulberries are fairly pest- and disease-resistant, although you might notice borers or aphids. Popcorn disease can sometimes afflict white mulberries, which causes the fruit to develop popcorn-like growths. Remove and destroy the affected fruit.
- ‘Illinois Everbearing’ is one of the most adaptable varieties. This cross between a white and red mulberry is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. It produces sweet, elongated berries the first year after planting. Grows to 35 feet tall.
- ‘Oscar’ is one of the best white varieties, with delicious raspberry-flavored fruit. Hardy in zones 6 through 9, it grows 30 feet tall.
- ‘Beautiful Day’ is a white variety that produces white fruit. The fruit won’t stain and can be planted closer to the house. Hardy only in zones 6 through 9.
- ‘Noir de Spain’ is a beautiful black variety that has a spreading habit and large, heart-shaped leaves. Hardy in zones 8 through 10.
Want to learn more about growing Mulberry trees?
Red and White Mulberries from Purdue University
Mulberry from NC State University
Julie Christensen learned about gardening on her grandfather’s farm and mother’s vegetable garden in southern Idaho. Today, she lives and gardens on the high plains of Colorado. When she’s not digging in the dirt, Julie writes about food, education, parenting and gardening.
8 Best Benefits of Mulberries
The health benefits of mulberries include their ability to improve digestion, lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss, increase circulation, build bone tissues, and boost the immune system. It also helps slow down the aging process, lower blood pressure, protect eyes and improve the overall metabolism of the body. Mulberries may also have anti-cancer benefits.
What are Mulberries?
Mulberries are the sweet, hanging fruits from a genus of deciduous trees that grow in a variety of temperate areas around the world. Thought to possibly have originated in China, they have spread throughout the world and are highly praised for their unique flavor and impressive composition of nutrients. In fact, most varieties found in different parts of the world are considered to be “native” from those areas, as they are widespread. The scientific name of mulberry varies depending on which species you are looking at, the most common types are Morus australis and Morus nigra, but there are other delicious varieties as well. In terms of appearance, the berries grow very fast when they are young but gradually slow as their color changes from white or green to pink or red, and eventually settling on dark purple or even black.
The sweet or tart flavor makes these berries ideal for sherbets, jams, jellies, fruit tarts, pies, wines, teas, and cordials. In certain areas of the world, the flavors of the mulberry varieties differ, but the American mulberry and the black mulberry are considered to have the most powerful flavor and are widely sought after. Interestingly, the mulberry tree has another important resource, besides providing people with delicious berries and that is its leaves. The mulberry leaves are also the only known food source for silkworms.
Fresh mulberries with leaves Photo Credit:
Mulberries are filled with nutrients that are important for our body, including iron, riboflavin, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, phosphorous, and calcium. They also contain a significant amount of dietary fiber and a wide range of organic compounds, including phytonutrients, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, anthocyanins, lutein, and various polyphenolic compounds.
Let’s explore what is packed inside these berries that make them so important.
Aid in Digestion
Like the majority of fruits and vegetables, mulberries contain dietary fiber, which makes approximately 10% of your daily requirements in a single serving. Dietary fiber can help to improve digestion by bulking up the stool, thereby speeding up the movement of food through the digestive tract, while also reducing occurrences of constipation, bloating, and cramping. Furthermore, fiber helps to regulate cholesterol levels and can improve heart health when regularly added to the diet.
The high levels of iron content in mulberries can significantly boost the production of red blood cells. This means that the body will increase its distribution of oxygen to important tissues and organs, thereby helping to boost metabolism and optimize the functionality of those systems.
Regulate Blood Pressure
Resveratrol is a very important flavonoid that directly affects the functioning of certain mechanisms in blood vessels, primarily making them less prone to damage by angiotensin, which can cause blood vessel constriction. In fact, resveratrol increases the production of nitric oxide, which is a vasodilator. This means that it relaxes blood vessels and reduces the chances of blood clot formation and subsequent heart issues like strokes or heart attacks. Resveratrol is found in many dark-skinned berries like mulberries, including most grapes, which is why this beneficial antioxidant is also found in wines.
Between the high content of anthocyanins, vitamin C, vitamin A, and various other polyphenolic and phytonutrient compounds, mulberries are also packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are the main line of defense against free radicals, which form a dangerous by-product of cellular metabolism and can damage healthy cells, causing them to mutate into cancerous ones. A study conducted by Huang HP et al. suggested that mulberry anthocyanin extract can slow down melanoma metastasis.
One of the carotenoids found in mulberries is zeaxanthin, which has been connected directly to a reduction in oxidative stress on certain ocular cells, including the retinal macula lutea. Furthermore, zeaxanthin functions as an antioxidant and prevents certain damage to the retina, including the free radicals that can cause macular degeneration and cataracts.
Research shows that mulberry leaves have anti-inflammatory properties, which can cut off the body’s inflammatory response to chronic diseases. The study also shows that mulberry leaf tea can be used to reduce inflammatory pain.
Vitamin C is a powerful defensive weapon against any illness or foreign pathogens in the body that antioxidants don’t take care of. A single serving of mulberries is almost the entire requirement of vitamin C for the day, but combine that with the minerals and vitamins present in this fruit, and you have a true weapon against illness. Try adding mulberries to your smoothies and salads to raise your immunity levels.
Build Healthy Bones
Vitamin K, calcium, and iron, as well as the trace amounts of phosphorous and magnesium found in mulberries, can all be beneficial for the creation and maintenance of bone tissue. As we get older, maintaining strong bones, speeding up the healing process or even reversing the damage of bone degradation is important to prevent conditions like osteoporosis or other age-related bone disorders.
Reduce Bad Cholesterol
Regular intake of mulberry leaf powder and mulberry leaf tea can significantly reduce triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This results in the prevention of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Prevent Premature Aging
Mulberries also boast a high level of vitamin A and vitamin E, along with a range of carotenoid components like lutein, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and alpha-carotene. All of these elements act as antioxidants that specifically affect the skin, tissue, hair, and other areas of the body where free radicals strike. Mulberries can aid in skin care, reduce the appearance of blemishes and age spots, and keep hair shiny and healthy by preventing the oxidative actions of free radicals.
Word of Caution: Mulberries are very good at lowering blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for particular people, but also very dangerous for others. Also, there are rare cases of allergies to the mulberry, so use them in moderation and monitor your body’s reaction if you are eating them for the first time.
23 Amazing Benefits Of Mulberries (Shahtoot) For Skin, Hair, And Health Ramya Achanta Hyderabd040-395603080 July 10, 2019
I remember plucking a handful of mulberries off a tree and stuffing them into my mouth at my grandparents’ place. Did you ever do that too?
Even if you did, I am sure it wasn’t because you were aware of the innumerable benefits that mulberries provide! It was just because they were tasty, wasn’t it? This delicious fruit is extremely healthy as well. I had no clue about this and did my research after coming across a journal that spoke extensively of mulberries’ benefits. I was amazed at what I discovered. Also called the ‘Shahtoot,’ this is one marvelous fruit. Read on to find out more.
Table Of Contents
- What Are Mulberries?
- What Is The History Of Mulberries?
- Why Are Mulberries Good?
- What Is The Nutrition of Mulberries?
- What Are The Health Benefits Of Mulberries?
- What Are The Skin Benefits Of Mulberries?
- What Are The Hair Benefits Of Mulberries?
- Where To Buy The Mulberry Fruit?
- How To Incorporate Mulberries Into Your Diet?
- What Are The Uses Of Mulberries?
- How To Select And Store Mulberries?
- How To Use Mulberries In Recipes?
- Fun Facts About Mulberries
- What Are The Side Effects Of Mulberries?
- Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
What Are Mulberries?
Simply put, mulberry is a berry that comes from a tree called Morus Alba. We usually think that mulberries are red, but there are white, black, and blue versions of them too. Mulberry trees can grow up to 10 feet per year and reach full maturity at 30 feet. The leaves, which are the favorite food of silkworms, fall off in winter and grow back the following season. Mulberries ripen over a few months and fully mature in May.
The structure of the mulberries is very similar to that of the blackberry (not the phone!). They taste similar to a grapefruit. They are sweet and can be eaten in the dry form.
Mulberries have interesting names in local dialects. They are called ‘Shahtoot‘ in Hindi, ‘Mulberi’ in Malay, ‘Morbær’ in Norwegian, ‘Mora’ in Spanish and ‘Mullbär’ in Swedish. ‘Kambali Pandu‘ in Telugu, ‘Mucukkattaip palam’ in Tamil, ‘Hippunerale‘ in Kannada, ‘Shetur‘ in Gujarati, ‘Tutee‘ in Marathi, and ‘Shatut‘ in Punjabi. The names are quite tricky to remember, so let’s just stick to ‘mulberry.’ Whatever the name is, mulberries are delicious and nutritious.
Mulberries are extensively grown in the warm regions of Asia, Africa, and America. So, if you live in these areas, you can easily get hold of a fresh batch and gorge on gleefully.
Also, there are a handful of interesting recipes of jams, jellies, smoothies, pancakes, desserts, sauces, and wine that incorporate mulberries in them and some of them are mentioned below for you to try.
Now, let’s get into the scientific details of mulberries. Mulberries are scientifically known as ‘morus,’ and is a part of a genus of flowering plants called the Moraceae. Moracea includes 10-16 species of deciduous trees that produce mulberries.
Mulberries are related to figs and breadfruit. Technically, mulberries are not single berries. Each mulberry is a concentrated fruit, and the fruits in the aggregation are arranged concentrically around a central axis.
Mulberries were used in Asia for centuries. The white mulberry, in specific, is native to China. Also, the same mulberry type was taken to Europe centuries ago and naturalized. Soon, the same white mulberry was introduced in colonial America mainly to support the silkworm industry as mulberry leaves are the only food for silkworms.
The red mulberry is native to the eastern United States and the Gulf Coast. The black mulberry is native to western Asia and has also been grown in Europe from before the Roman ages.
Now, let’s go back in time and find out more about the history of mulberries. Shall we?
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History Of Mulberries
According to a study by Purdue University, mulberries were used in Chinese herbal medicine for centuries to treat heart diseases, diabetes, anemia, and arthritis. There is a Babylonian myth that attributes the reddish-purple color of the mulberries to the deaths of two lovers in an ancient tragic love story. The history of mulberries is connected to the growth of the silk industry. Mulberry leaves were used to fatten the silkworms in the Orient regions. The spread of mulberry trees across the world can, in a way, be attributed to the need of mulberry leaves for the silkworm industry.
Mulberries slowly spread from the Oriental countries to the European countryside. Even today, you can see mulberry trees being grown in Turkey, the land where the world famous Turkish silk carpets are produced.
Mulberries were popular with the ancient Greeks too, and the fruit was dedicated to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. The first mulberry was planted in England in the 1500s.
It definitely is quite a healthy fruit. Let’s learn about what makes it so nutritious below.
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Why Are Mulberries Good?
Mulberries are full of nutrients and vitamins. A cup of raw mulberries contains only 60 calories, making them a light and tasty snack, yet providing the nutrients necessary for the body.
Mulberries contain carbohydrates that convert sugar into glucose, thereby providing energy to the cells. Consuming mulberries increases your iron intake and ensures ample supply of oxygen to the tissues.
Mulberries are rich in Vitamin K and C. Vitamin C increases tissue strength and boosts collagen synthesis. Vitamin K helps in bone tissue development and is an essential component for blood clotting.
They also contain Riboflavin (also known as B-2), which protects your tissues from free radicals and helps in transferring oxygen throughout the body.
Consuming any form of the mulberry fruit – whether the fruit itself, its powder, or juice – is beneficial to you. You can even apply mulberry extracts on your skin – your skin will become healthy and shiny.
Let’s learn about the nutritional value of mulberries in detail below.
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Nutrition Data Of Mulberries
Mulberries are a powerhouse of nutrients. They contain fibers, sugars, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, minerals, and vitamins. They are an excellent source of protein as well. 3 ounces of mulberries have 9 grams of protein. They are also a rich source of iron and calcium.
Mulberries are also a reservoir of antioxidants. An antioxidant called Resveratrol is found abundantly in mulberries. Other antioxidants found in mulberries are cyanidin, chlorogenic acid, Myricetin, and Rutin. Apart from these, mulberries are also a rich source of polynutrients like anthocyanin, flavonoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, B carotenes, and A carotene.
There is not much difference between the nutritional profiles of the different types of mulberries. The black mulberries are usually tastier than the white mulberries, but their nutrition profile is pretty much the same.
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Health Benefits Of Mulberries
1. Improve Digestive Health
Mulberries are a boon for your stomach. They relieve constipation and are also an excellent way to lose weight. Mulberries contain a good amount of dietary fiber. Your body needs dietary fiber to facilitate proper digestion. It does so by bulking up a stool in the stomach and facilitating the movement of food through the digestive tract. This process helps in relieving constipation, bloating, and stomach cramps (1).
Healthy digestion helps in efficiently maintaining optimum weight. A research was conducted by Italy’s F. De Ritis Institute and the Catholic University of Sacred Heart to determine the weight loss capacity of mulberries. It was found out that those who consumed mulberries as part of a balanced diet plan of 1300 calories decreased to about 10% of their total body weight in nearly three months.
The researchers also noticed that the group which consumed mulberries reduced drastically in the waist and thigh regions (2). So, all you people who want a slender waist and toned thighs, you know what to eat.
2. Lower Cholesterol
Eating mulberries is a good way to lower the levels of bad cholesterol in your body, which in turn helps in preventing cardiovascular problems (3).
3. Control Blood Sugar Levels
White mulberries, in particular, help in keeping a check on the sugar levels of the body. Certain chemicals present in white mulberries are similar to the medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes.
These compounds in white mulberry help in keeping the sugar levels of the body at an optimum range by slowly breaking down the sugars in the gut and allowing them to be absorbed slowly into the blood (4).
4. Reduce Cancer Risk
If you are looking to protect yourself from cancer, then mulberry is what you should be looking for. Mulberries are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that help in stopping the growth and spread of tumor cells and protect you from cancer. (5)
Mulberries are full of anthocyanins that help in keeping cancer cells at bay (6). They also contain resveratrol, which has anti-cancer properties (7). Resveratrol cancer inhibiting properties help in fighting colon cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, and thyroid (8).
5. Improve Blood Circulation
Mulberries improve blood flow through the body, control blood pressure, and cleanse the blood. The antioxidants present in mulberries help in improving the function of the blood vessels by keeping them supple and dilated, which leads to blood pressure control as there is a free flow of blood from the heart to other parts of the body. Mulberries encourage the production of red blood cells as they are rich in iron.
Mulberries contain polyphenols that keep the blood vessels healthy. They also contain potassium, which lowers the blood pressure (9).
Mulberries have been used as a remedy for blood health since ages. Ancient Chinese medicine incorporated them in their blood tonics that were used to cleanse the blood and increase its production.
6. Cure Anemia
Mulberries are great for curing anemia as they are rich in iron (10). They also cure the symptoms of anemia such as fatigue and dizziness.
7. Better Heart Health
The fiber, antioxidants, and flavonoid content of mulberries facilitate heart health. They help in maintaining a consistent flow of blood, thus preventing heart attacks and strokes. Mulberries are rich in polyphenols, which are considered healthy for the heart (11).
8. Good For Vision
Like carrots, mulberries too are good for your eyes. They improve your vision and protect your eyes from free radicals that are a cause of retinal degeneration and loss in eye sight (12). Mulberries contain zeaxanthin, which helps in reducing oxidative stress in the cells that form your eyes. The carotenoids present in mulberries assist in preventing cataracts and macular degeneration (13).
9. Promote Brain Health
Research suggests that mulberries age-proof the brain, keeping it young and alert. They also provide the calcium needs of the brain, hence keeping it hale and healthy (14). Mulberry also makes for an excellent treatment to keep Alzheimer’s at bay (15).
10. Improve Immunity
Mulberries help in improving the immune system by activating the macrophages through the alkaloids present in them. Macrophages keep the immune system alert at all times. Mulberries also contain Vitamin C, which is another immunity strengthening element (16).
11. Build Bone Tissue
Mulberries contain Vitamin K, calcium, and iron, which is the best combination of nutrients to maintain and build strong bone tissues and bones (17). These nutrients help the bones reverse the signs of bone degradation and prevent bone disorders such as osteoporosis, arthritis, etc.
12. Rich Source Of Antioxidants
Mulberries contain an abundance of antioxidants. They contain a high concentration of the powerful antioxidant resveratrol, which is a natural antibiotic and helps in reducing heart risks. It also keeps a check on the blood pressure (18).
13. Prevent Flu And Cold
Flu and cold are a menace. Don’t you agree? Well, eating mulberries could solve that problem for you. The white mulberry fruit, in particular, has been used in folk remedies for cold (19). White mulberries are considered to be an astringent, bactericide and tonic and work correctly to prevent and treat flu and cold (19). They also contain Vitamin C and flavonoids, which prevent cold and flu.
14. Improve Liver Health
Mulberries can be used to make a blood tonic, because when consumed, they nourish and purify the blood in the liver (20). Mulberries have the ability to strengthen the liver, and also contain iron that works well to maintain the liver health.
15. Are An Anti-Inflammatory Agent
The presence of resveratrol in mulberries induce anti-inflammatory properties in it. Mulberries also contain anthocyanins that help in preventing inflammation (21). Mulberries are sometimes even used as a natural alternative to allopathic anti-inflammatory drugs.
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Benefits Of Mulberries For Skin
1. Effective Anti-Aging Agent
Mulberries have the ability to make you look young and fresh. They contain resveratrol, which protects the skin from harmful UV rays (22). Mulberries are abundant in antioxidants, which are great anti-aging agents. They keep your skin blooming and free of wrinkles (23). The antioxidants in mulberries such as beta-carotene neutralize the free radicals that damage skin and cause fine lines. Mulberries also provide vitamins A, C and E, lack of which leads to wrinkles.
2. Clear Out Dark Spots And Blemishes
The antioxidants in mulberries prevent the occurrence of blemishes on the skin. Mulberries help regulate the melanin synthesis in your skin, which naturally clears off the dark spots (24). They contain antioxidants that moisturize, unclog pores, and remove toxins from your skin, keeping it fresh and vibrant. Mulberries effectively even out your skin and make it look naturally beautiful and healthy.
3. Treat Dry And Sensitive Skin
Lack of Vitamins A and E cause dry skin. Mulberries are rich in those vitamins, and help in treating dry and delicate skin. They hydrate your skin from within. Mulberry root extracts soothe irritated skin.
4. Make Skin Soft And Radiant
You can simply sit and eat a bowl of mulberries every day to get soft and radiant skin because they are rich in minerals that provide elasticity, flexibility, and nourishment to the skin (25).
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Benefits Of Mulberries For Your Hair
1. Promote Hair Growth
The presence of antioxidants in mulberries help in keeping your hair healthy, promote hair growth, and prevent breakage.
2. Help In the Retention Of Natural Hair Color
Mulberries, in combination with some traditional Chinese herbs, can help in preventing early hair graying. The nutrients in mulberries such as calcium, iron, Vitamin C, and B play a vital role in doing so (26).
So many benefits – don’t you feel like buying them right now and start eating them? Then look no further than below. We included a list of places where you can find mulberries.
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Where To Buy The Mulberry Fruit?
I asked around and personally shopped from one of these.
Some online websites, such as Amazon, offer an excellent collection of mulberry products at any time of the year. In some cities, it is even possible to order the fruit online such as from TRade India (Chennai). Most of the supermarkets near you would also store this fruit.
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How To Incorporate Mulberries Into Your Diet?
It is not just the mulberry fruit that you can eat. The leaves, bark, and stem of the plant can also be made into edible items.
You can either eat the mulberry fruit raw, or dry and eat them as an energy snack by mixing it with mashed bananas or other dry fruits. Or, you can make mulberry juice and down it in no time.
You can also make tonics and syrups with mulberries and consume it regularly to benefit from its goodness.
You can also dry the mulberry leaves and make tea with them. Mulberry tea is as beneficial as eating the raw mulberries.
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Uses of Mulberries
As mentioned earlier, mulberries and their leaves can be used to make teas and other beverages. Apart from this, they make great fillings for pies as well as can be used to make a wide range of delicious desserts. Of all the berries that exist, mulberries have the highest content of antioxidants, making them healthy no matter how you prepare them. Mulberry smoothies taste sumptuous!
There are many different ways that you can use this berry in your diet. The fruit and leaves have beneficial properties that you can use to promote overall health.
If you are looking for a natural way to cleanse your body, get glowing skin and strong, healthy hair, mulberries are the best choice.
Every part of your body benefits from this amazing berry, so it is a must to add it to your diet!
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How To Select And Store Mulberries?
Black mulberries are tastier than the other types of mulberries. They taste best from May to August. The other variants are available until spring.
If you are buying them from a store, you should make sure that they are plump and have a vibrant color. Unless you are getting white mulberries, make it a point to avoid mulberries that are pale in color as this shows that they have not ripened yet. Look for fresh mulberries and avoid those that are bruised, bleeding or sunken.
If you have a mulberry tree, it is not a hard task to harvest the fruits. All you need is a tarp to cover the ground under its branches and shake them to make the berries fall on the tarp. If it is time for the fruits to mature, you will need to repeat the process every alternate day.
Once you have collected the berries, put them in baskets. Remember not to make the baskets too full as the ones at the bottom will get crushed.
The next step is to store them in containers that are airtight. You can wash the berries before storing them or wash them before you use them. These fruits can be stored in your refrigerator for about three days.
If freezing them after harvest is better for you, you can wash and dry them gently by patting them with a soft cloth or tissue and store them in a sealed bag. You can leave mulberries in your freezer for about three months.
Let’s get to making something of the mulberries now. Following are some tasty recipes of mulberries.
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1. Mulberry Sorbet
Sorbets make for a perfect ending to a meal or to eat away when you feel like having something ice-cream like but without the calories.
All you need are
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 5 cups mulberries or blackberries
- 2 tablespoons cassis or Port Wine
Time Taken To Make
1 hour and 20 minutes
How To Make
- Clean and keep the mulberries aside.
- Boil sugar and water in a container with medium heat. Simmer it for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Pick off all the green stems from the mulberries. Turn the heat off and let it cool.
- Blend the mulberries and pour the sugar syrup on the mulberry paste. Make it into a puree. Sieve the mulberry puree to remove any seeds or stems.
- Pour a bit of Port Wine into it and chill the mixture in the freezer for about an hour. Then, pour it into an ice cream maker and whip up a sorbet.
2. Mulberry Banana Mousse
Who doesn’t like mousse? Soft and fluffy, they are a treat to your taste buds. Let’s learn how to make it with mulberries, shall we?
- 10 1/2 ounces silken tofu
- 1 frozen banana (medium, chopped)
- 1 cup mulberries (frozen)
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups mulberries (fresh, for garnish)
- Place a bowl in the freezer. Blend the tofu until it becomes smooth. Smash the frozen bananas and mulberries into the tofu.
- Add maple syrup, lemon juice, and vanilla to the mixture. Blend the three until the texture of the mixture becomes smooth.
- Now, take out the bowl from the freezer and pour the mix into it. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze it for 4 hours.
- After 4 hours, your mousse is ready to eat! Garnish with fresh mulberries and eat away.
Now, let’s check some mulberry facts. Should be fun.
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Facts About Mulberries
- Mulberry leaves grow in bunches called the ‘drupes’, which is a favorite of silkworms. The silkworms gorge on the leaves ruthlessly, becoming fatter and fatter. Nom Nom Nom.
- All the parts of the mulberry tree have been invariably used in one way or the other in ancient Chinese herbal medicine.
- Mulberry trees grow up to 30 to 80 feet in height. The white mulberry variety is the largest, and the black mulberry is the smallest, and only grows as a shrub.
- Mulberry trees produce fruit only after 10 years of its plantation.
- White mulberry leaves were used by ancient Romans to treat diseases of the mouth, trachea and the lungs.
- Mulberry essential oil has a great fragrance and provides many benefits. It can be added to lotions, shampoos, soaps and candles.
We spoke of all things good about mulberries. Now, let’s check the other side, the not so good side.
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Side Effects of Mulberries
- Mulberries are rich in potassium, which can cause complications for those suffering from kidney disorders.
- Mulberries can lower blood sugar levels and cause hypoglycemia.
- Mulberries can cause allergic reactions in some people like skin rashes, itching, and swelling.
- Some people experience hallucinations after consuming mulberries.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before consuming mulberries.
That’s all, folks. You now know all that you need to know about mulberries, if not more! They are truly something, aren’t they? Don’t you feel like getting some mulberries and eating them after reading this article? You should. And, do tell us if you know any other benefits than the ones mentioned above. Comment in the box below!
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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Are all mulberries edible?
All mulberries usually are edible, but if they are wild mulberries, then you must check before randomly eating them.
Are blackberries and mulberries the same thing?
No, they are not. The two may be similar in certain ways but have their uniqueness and properties.
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Mo’ Mulberry — A guide to probably everything you need to know about growing Mulberry
Oct 11, 2017 · 20 min read
Not many plants offer so much to the grower while demanding so little in return. A tree that requires so little attention and care, that even if there were an RSPP — Royal Society for the Protection of Plants (which there should be judging by the amount of tortured house and garden plants I come across) no-one would ever get prosecuted for Morus neglect 🙂
Mulberry for Permaculture/Polyculture and Agroforestry
Mulberry is one of the fastest growing temperate trees I know of, produces an abundance of excellent fruit every year and is virtually pest and disease free. It is one half responsible for the finest fibres known to man, i.e silk, can be grown nearly everywhere that has soil and is a source of high quality animal fodder plus quite a bit more, as we shall see.
Mulberry fruit from various trees in our gardens.
During this post we’ll take a close look at these incredible plants including how to grow them, the uses of Mulberry, growing Mulberry in polycultures, permaculture and agroforestry and i’ll introduce some relatively rare Bulgarian cultivars that we are offering from the bionursery this season.
But first I want to take this opportunity to let you know that we’ve just launched a brand new Regenerative Landscape Design — Online Interactive Course — How to Design, Build and Manage Polycultures for Landscapes, Gardens, and Farms.
Regenerative Landscape Design — Online Interactive Course — How to Design, Build and Manage Polycultures for Landscapes, Gardens, and Farms.
You can find out more about the course here to see if it tickles your fancy 🙂 and if you’d like to take part we are currently offering a 20% discount to the first 10 people to enroll. Register here with promo code 1st102020 to take advantage of this offer.
We are looking forward to providing you with this unique online learning experience — as far as we know the very first of its kind! If you are looking for reasons why you should do this course and whether this course is suitable for you, take a look here where we lay it all out.
There are about 68 species of the genus Morus, and the majority of them occur in Asia. In China alone there are over a thousand cultivars grown.
We’ll be focusing on the White Mulberry — Morus alba that we grow in our gardens and we’ll also touch on Black Mulberry — M. nigra and Red Mulberry — M. rubra, two other popular plants in cultivation. Let’s start with an attempt to clarify the differences between these three species and then take a detailed look at White Mulberry.
The differences between Red, Black and White Mulberry
- White Mulberry are native to northern, eastern, and central Asia and are one of the primary species used to feed silkworms.
- Black Mulberry are native to southwest Asia. It was brought to Europe before the Roman Empire where it has continued to be grown for its fruits.
- Red Mulberry are native to eastern North America
There is a fair bit of confusion over these three species. The colour of the fruit does not identify the mulberry species. White Mulberries, for example, can produce white, lavender or black fruit. White Mulberry fruits are generally very sweet but often lacking in tartness. Red Mulberry fruits are usually deep red, almost black, and in the best cultivars have a flavour that almost equals that of the black mulberry. Black Mulberry fruits are large and juicy, with a good balance of sweetness and tartness that I personally prefer the most.
White and Black Mulberry fruit
Black Mulberry can be distinguished from White Mulberry by a hairy lower leaf surface on the Black Mulberry plants. The juicier Black Mulberry fruit will also stain your fingers when you pick them. The fruits of the White and Red Mulberry are more difficult to tell apart but a sure way of telling the two species apart is from the leaves. The upper surface of the Red Mulberry leaves are noticeably rough, similar in texture to fine sandpaper while in stark contrast the upper surface of the leaves of White Mulberry are lustrous (Glossy, smooth and shiny).
Confusing the situation further, Red Mulberry and White Mulberry often hybridize, resulting in trees with intermediate characteristics.
According to Ovid (Metamorphoses — Book IV) you have the Babylonian lovers Pyramus and Thisbe, and the Greek Gods to thank for at least some of this confusion. In short, Pyramus and Thisbe denied their love of each other by their rivaling families decided to run off together (sound familiar??) The rendezvous was under a White Mulberry tree out of town. Thisbe turned up first and while waiting for Pyramus, a lioness with jaws stained from the blood of a previous kill started towards her. Thisbe darted into a nearby cave dropping her shawl under the tree as she fled. The lioness approached the shawl, dripping blood all over it just as Pyramus showed up. Pyramus chased the lioness away and seeing the blood stained shawl assumed that Thisbe had been mauled to death. In desperation he plunged a sword into his belly just moments before Thisbe emerged from the cave. Finding Pyramus taking his last breath she falls on the sword herself and they both bleed out in tragic unity. The blood splashing from the bodies stained the previously White Mulberry fruit, and the Gods forever changed the Mulberry’s colour to honour their forbidden love. All I can say is thank the Gods for mobile phones 🙂
A parable on the perils of tardiness.
White Mulberry — Morus alba
Latin name — Morus alba
Common name — White Mulberry, Silkworm Mulberry
Family — Moraceae
History — White Mulberry cultivation has a long and rich history dating back thousands of years ago as a requirement for silkworm rearing. They were beloved by Persians, Romans and Greeks and moved throughout Europe along with the spread of culture from these places.
Growing Range — Morus alba has a very wide distribution range in Asia and Europe (from Korea to Spain, including China, India, Central Asia and the Near East); in Africa (North and East Africa) and in the Americas (from the United States to Argentina, including Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Brazil). The origins of most cultivated mulberry varieties are believed to be in the China/Japan area and in the Himalayan foothills.
Morus alba leaf variation —
Description — A fast-growing, small to medium-sized tree growing to 10 –20 m tall. It is generally a short-lived tree although there are some specimens known to be over 250 years old. Fruits can be white at maturity on a few trees, but are usually dark purple and 3 to 6 cm long. The fruits ripen from mid spring — late summer (depending on species and cultivar). The leaves are usually shiny, dark green and smooth but can be yellowish green. Most leaves are not lobed, but some can be. The juvenile growth is often lobed.
Sexual Reproduction — The trees can be dioecious or monoecious, and sometimes will change from one sex to another. The flowers are held on short, green, pendulous, catkins that appear in the axils of the current season’s growth and on spurs on older wood. They are wind pollinated and some cultivars will set fruit without any pollination. The White Mulberry is notable for the rapid release of its pollen, which is launched at over half the speed of sound!
Mulberry flowers — in some cases the male and female flowers are on the same tree (monoecious) and in other cases the male and female flowers are on separate trees (dioecious).
Light Preferences — Mulberries thrive in full sun but can grow well in partial shade.
Water needs — The plants are drought tolerant but grow best and yield high in areas with rainfall between 600 -1500 mm/yr. In our location with average annual rainfall of 580 mm they grow well without irrigation. I have seen Mulberry growing well in wetlands and on riverbanks, as the plants are tolerant to sporadic water logging although they usually occur in non-wetlands.
Habitat — Morus alba commonly invades old fields, roadsides, forest edges, urban environments, and other disturbed areas. It grows well in natural forests, planted forests, range/grasslands, ruderal/disturbed areas and urban areas.
Hardiness USDA — 4b — 9a A very hardy tree tolerating temperatures down to -36C but also comfortable in sub tropical and Mediterranean climates. Morus alba is the most cold resistant of the Mulberry trees
Ecology — Many small mammals feed on mulberries, including birds, foxes, squirrels and rodents. Deer browse on the twigs and foliage and a range of insects inhabit the crowns of mature trees. In our experience Ladybirds are attracted to the Mulberry fruit. Mulberry is often associated with Mycorrhizae including Glomus mosseae and Glomus fasciculatum.
Where to Plant
Climatic Limitations — Mulberries thrive over a very wide range of climates especially warm temperate but also Mediterranean, sub-tropical and tropical, where they can be grown as evergreens.
Soil — They prefer a warm, moist, well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position. However they are adapted to coarse, medium, and fine soils. They tolerate a pH range of 5.0–7.0.
Location — The trees are tolerant of wind, drought, cold and partial shade so you can pretty much plant them anywhere. The plant is also quite salt tolerant once established. A few things to consider when choosing a location is that the fruit fall can extend 6–8 weeks and once mature it’s practically impossible to harvest let alone consume all that fruit, so placing the tree in a place where the fruit fall will not be a nuisance is a good idea. Much to the pleasure of our pigs we set their pen under one half of our Mulberry tree with some of the tree overhanging the chicken coop also.
Pig pen located under a mature White Mulberry — Morus alba in our back garden
The trees can get large and will cast a heavy shade when mature so this should also be taken into consideration. We lift the lower limbs of our trees to allow space and light for a range of smaller trees, shrubs and herbs (see Mulberry polyculture later).
Pollination/Fertilisation — Some cultivars will produce greater yields if allowed to cross-pollinate, although many cultivars (monoecious types) do not need cross-pollination at all. Some Mulberries can even produce fruit without any pollination. Pollination occurs by wind.
Feeding, Irrigation and Care
Feeding — Mulberry require little fertilisation. When planting out new trees top dressing the planting hole with 20–30 L of compost and repeating this in early spring for the first 2 years will be more than enough to get them going. After this they should be fine, especially so if you are growing the tree in polycultures.
Irrigation — The trees will grow faster and produce more fruit with access to water during the flowering and fruiting period. Young trees should be mulched well each spring and irrigated for the first 2–3 years with 30 L of water every 2–4 weeks without rain. The trees develop deep taproots that should be able to access ground water if available.
Weeding — Mulching plants with a 10 -20 cm deep mulch each spring and pulling weeds that start to grow through in the summer is good practice when the plants are young. As the trees mature they grow well amongst other plants of all kinds.
Pruning — Mulberry are low branching. We have lifted the lower limbs of our trees to approx 5- 6 m high allowing us to plant under the tree and to allow easy access around the tree. The trees respond well to this type of pruning. If pruning young trees bear in mind the flowering and fruit buds develop on second year old growth.
Harvesting — The easiest way I know of to harvest a White Mulberry is the shake and catch method.
Fresh fruit only keeps for a few days, and is best kept refrigerated if you don’t eat them immediately. This is one of the main reasons you don’t see much Mulberry fruit in the shops. The fruits can also be dried or frozen (never tried it personally).
Propagation — There are many reports on the internet of how easy it is to propagate mulberry from branches. Simply cut the branch from the tree and push it into the soil and presto! it will root within a season. I’ve tried this many times with our White Mulberry Morus alba trees with no success. In fact I have tried hard wood cuttings in every season with no successes. It seems to me that this method is probably effective method for Red Mulberry and perhaps Black Mulberry.
White Mulberry can be grown from seed and is best sown immediately after fruiting. Cold stratification for 4- 16 weeks can improve germination rates. Layering is also reported to work well.
Invasive — This species is considered ecologically invasive in most of North America. The threat is to the native Red Mulberry (M. rubra) though hybridization. It does not seem to be a problem in Europe.
Pest and Disease — Mulberries suffer few disease and insect pests. I have never experienced any problems with the Mulberries we grow or any I have seen. It’s an oddity that based on this more people do not grow them at home and commercially. The main pest to Mulberry is probably deer that will browse on the leaves of these plants, but this is generally only a problem with young trees and regrowth from coppice. If you are growing for biomass pollarding the trees at a height the deer cannot reach is a good solution.
Allergies — The plant’s pollen has become problematical in some cities where it has been blamed for an increase in hay fever.
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Silk Production — The Asian Mulberries are widely cultivated to feed the silkworm — Bombyx mori employed in the commercial production of silk. Silk was once grown across the world but since it is a very labour-intensive industry much is now focused in countries with low labour costs. China has 626, 000 hectares of Mulberry for silkworm.
Mulberry is usually associated with sericulture, the production of silk through the silkworm (Bombyx mori).
The silkworm is a pretty amazing little creature. Feeding exclusively on Mulberry leaves the caterpillars emerge from eggs and fatten up, spin a cocoon (the silk part) and when not used for silk production hatch into beautiful moths. When used for silk production the caterpillars are boiled to death in their cocoon before they hatch. The boiled cocoons can be eaten and in China and Vietnam they are seasoned and fried.
Original source here
Fruit — White Mulberry fruits are generally very sweet but often lacking in the tartness that can be found in the Red and Black Mulberries. The fruits ripen over an extended period of time unlike many other fruits which seem to come all at once. The fruiting period can be from 6–8 weeks.
Wood — Especially in the Indian subcontinent, mulberry wood is used for handicrafts, cabinet work and for sporting woods (e.g. grass-hockey sticks and tennis rackets). The thin branches can be woven into baskets. Coppiced mulberry produces fairly straight strong poles that we use for stakes and tree props. The plant grows very fast and makes a medium-quality fuel wood with a calorific value of 4370–4770 kcal/kg.
Erosion control: A useful species for stabilizing physical soil-conservation structures.
Reclamation: Can be grown on wastelands.
Soil Improver and Biomass: Fast growth and tolerance to pruning makes this a great chop and drop plant. Growth can increase soil fertility through litter fall.
Animal Fodder — As well as the feed stock for silkworms the leaves and branches make great food for livestock (cattle, goats, pigs and rabbits) and are used across the world especially so in areas with poor soils and low rainfall where fresh forage is not always available. It’s often reported that the foliage can be used to feed chickens. Our flock won’t eat it.
The leaves contain between 18–25% protein (dry matter content) and have high digestibility (70–90%). Yields of leaves and stems used for forage, range from 3.2–21 tons/acre/year (8–52 tons/hectare/year) with most in the 8–12 tons/acre/year (20–30 tons/hectare/year). If you are interested in growing Mulberry for animals check out this article from FAO.
Leaves — The leaves are prepared as tea in Korea. The tea can be made from fresh or dried leaves. They are highly nutritious and contain vitamins B complex (except B12), C (200–300 mg/100 g), D and flavonols. They are sometimes eaten as a vegetable.
Shahara Khaleque from Growing Smart.HK introduced me to Issei Shinagawa from Hong Kong who claims a cup of Mulberry leaf tea a day will turn your grey hairs black as well improve your general health.
All fresh leaves are fine to use for the tea. You can simply run your hand down a branch and strip all the leaves, they come off really easily. The leaves can be dried whole or cut into strips. I dried some cut leaves on our kitchen table by a sunny window and they were dry within a day and half.
Simply crumble a few leaves into a cup and poor on hot water and you have a very decent tasting cuppa. I’ll see about those grey hairs 🙂
Landscaping — Their resistance to pruning, their low water requirements and tolerance of pollution make them very suitable plants for urban conditions, house gardens, street shade and city embellishment. They are often grown on roadsides and avenues as an ornamental tree.
The compact Morus alba ‘pendula’ — Varna Botanic Garden — Ekopark — Universitetska Botanicheska gradina
Hedging / Windbreak — I’ve not seen or tried these plants in a hedge but I see no reason why they would not be very suitable. They take well to repeated pruning, grow fast and have large leaves that provide a good screen from late spring to Autumn. Being fast growing and in little need of attention White Mulberry is a great option for shelter planting such as protecting orchards from wind.
Bee Fodder — The pollen from the flowers is utilized by bees and other pollinators and sometimes juice of overripe berries or fallen fruit.
Medicinal uses — The bark is said to be good in the treatment of stomach-ache and the leaves and twigs can be used for treating heavy colds, cough, red eye, insect bites and wounds. The fruit is used in the treatment of sore throat and melancholia. The Chinese have used Mulberry fruit for centuries for its aphrodisiac qualities.
Trees grown from seed will start to fruit in the 5th or 6th year. Cultivar whips should start to fruit in the 2nd or 3rd year.
Younger trees can be expected to yield between 3–5 kg in the first 2–4 years when fruiting begins. A mature tree of 20 -30 years will produce well over 300 kg of fruit.
To harvest the trees we hold a net under and shake the branches. As the fruits ripen at different stages starting in early June and ending in early August inevitably you shake down some unripe fruit but the majority of the fruit is in good condition.
Harvesting Mulberry with nets in our garden
If you coppice or pollard the tree you will need to wait a year before they start to produce fruit again as the flowering buds are borne on the second year growth.
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Mulberry is the one of the fastest growing temperate trees I know of. The wood is relatively strong and the small diameter poles make good stakes and larger diameter poles are good for fuel logs. The trees respond very well to coppicing and pollarding. If you have deer pressure in your area pollarding is best as the regrowth is out of reach.
We keep a few trees in the garden as pollards and regularly cut the regrowth back for the rabbits and pigs. We pollard as opposed to coppice as the trees are planted among a density of fruiting shrubs (Blackberry, Raspberry, Aronia and Goji). Other trees we allow to grow larger and cut back on a 5 year cycle to provide fuel logs and poles for vegetable supports and fence posts.
There is a rich history of mulberry coppice in Asia and it’s becoming more popular across the world as a biomass producing plant particularly for animal food.
Mulberry leaves as a forage crop for livestock including monogastrics (pigs, rabbits, etc.), ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, etc.) Our pigs and rabbits enjoy it, but our chickens and ducks are not into it.
Coppice shoots from a 20 year old stool have showed a mean annual diameter increment of 1.5 cm and a mean annual height increment of 1 m. Early growth is very fast: 4.5 m in the 1st 2 years. Currently we have multiple regrowth shoots of 2.5–3 m tall in one year from the tree pollarded in the above video. To get an idea how fast these trees grow that tree was 8 years old (from seed) and has been pollarded 3 times to date.
Mulberry are excellent plants for use in polycultures. They are tolerant of partial shade so suitable in the edges of an under storey of a larger tree, are not very nutrient demanding or competitive. They tolerate pruning very well and can be used for chop and drop plants grown between fruit trees or in hedgerows. If fruit production is priority they can be given a position in full sun and although they grow tall and wide, by lifting the lower branches you can accommodate a range of productive and useful plants underneath them.
Perhaps one of my favorite polycultures in our home garden features a grand old Mulberry tree — Morus alba. The tree is approx. 10 m tall and 12 m wide. As previously mentioned the mulberry overhangs the pig pen and some of the chicken coop. The slow but sure delivery of fruit fall for 8 weeks in the spring and summer is much appreciated by the animals.
Sketch of our White Mulberry Polyculture
On the edges of the canopy we have a fig tree and a Cornelian Cherry that both produce exceptionally well and we have planted a few hazels on the south side last year.
Figs and Cornelian Cherry from the Polyculture
Directly under the Mulberry tree there is an Apple and a Pear tree. Both trees are semi standards but the shade of the Mulberry has resulted in the trees taking on a dwarf habit. The Apple produces a negligible quantity of small red fruits (we keep it as it serves as part of the electric fencing in the pig pen) but the Pear tree on the western side of the tree produces a reasonable quantity of delicious Pears.
Pear Tree with the White Mulberry Towering overhead
Under and around the Pear we grow Asparagus plants with Chinese Lantern and Tuberous Comfrey ground cover and we have a few black currant plants. Finally there are two patches of Raspberry one to the north of the tree and one on the eastern edge of the canopy.
Raspberry with the pear and Mulberry in the background
We also have 4 raised beds to the east of the mulberry where we grow tree saplings that appreciate the shade of the Mulberry during high summer.
Tree seedling beds under the mulberry. You can see the lifted Mulberry canopy on the top left corner of the photo
I’ll be making a detailed write up of this polyculture in the near future
More info and registration here
Agroforestry Potential Of Mulberry
There is great potential for Mulberry in agroforestry systems. It’s deep-rooting habit and drought tolerance makes it a suitable tree for Alley cropping with grains grown in between alleys. The fast growing nature of the tree and it’s tolerance to wind makes it great candidate for windbreaks and biomass belts. Furthermore the high quality animal fodder that can be produced from the trees make it an excellent choice for silvoarable systems although the fodder is generally cut and carried as the plant is not suited to continuous grazing.
We’ll be experimenting with optimal cutting intervals in our upcoming perennial polycultre trials growing the biomass for fodder and for mulch material.
I’ve included mulberry in a few agroforestry designs the most recent being an alley cropping system with single row mixed contour plantings (with Hazel and Pea Tree). The alleys in between the rows will be used for free ranged pastured poultry and growing grains for the poultry.
26 m stretch of a polyculture tree row for an alley cropping design for Catherine Zanev’s farm in Debnevo, Bulgaria
We have some great mulberry cultivars on offer this season. The cultivars have been developed in Bulgaria and are suitable for all climates where Mulberry grows well. We have a selection of heavy cropping plants as well plants grown for biomass/animal fodder or sericulture. All of these plants are resistant to all major pest and diseases.
The price is €12 per tree and we are offering 10% discount for orders over 30 trees.
White Mulberry — Morus alba — ‘Vratza 24’
Fruit — Abundant large purple fruits ripening from June — August
Sex and Pollination — Dioecious — Female Plant will produce fruit with a male pollinator such as ‘Kokuso 27’ or any fruiting mulberry nearby
Hardiness — Full hardy withstanding temperatures as low as -34 C
Leaves — Large entire leaves (22 cm x 19 cm). Thick and nutritious
Fodder Potential — The leaf yield under rain fed conditions with planting distance 3 m x 1 m, 3300 trees per hectare is higher than 13,000 kg/ha.
Water needs — Very drought tolerant
Mulberry cultivars — Biomass and Fodder Plants
These plants have been selected specifically for vigor and their huge nutritious leaves.
Large leaved mulberry, great trees for biomass production for sericulture, mulches and animal fodder
White Mulberry — Morus alba — ‘Kokuso 27’
Fruit — Fruitless
Sex and Pollination — Monoecious — Majority male flowers
Hardiness — Full hardy withstanding temperatures as low as -34 C
Leaves — Large lobed leaves (22 cm x 17 cm). Thick and nutritious
Fodder Potential — The leaf yield under rain fed conditions with planting distance 3 m x 1 m, 3300 trees per hectare is higher than 16,000 kg/ha.
Japanese Mulberry — Morus latifolia — ‘Kokuso 21’
Fruit — Fruitless
Sex and Pollination — Monoecious — Majority male flowers
Hardiness — Full hardy withstanding temperatures as low as -34 C
Leaves — Large entire leaves (23 cm x 17 cm). Thick and nutritious
Fodder Potential — The leaf yield under rain fed conditions with planting distance 3 m x 1 m, 3300 trees per hectare is higher than 15,000 kg/ha.
To order some Mulberry cultivars for delivery this winter contact us at [email protected] –
We offer a range of plants and seeds for permaculture and forest gardens from our plant nursery including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. Delivery to all over Europe available from Nov — March
Seeds for Forest Gardens and Permaculture Balkan Ecology Project Bio-Nursery
How to Harvest Mulberries
By Erin Huffstetler | 06/05/2014 |
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It’s mulberry season here in the South! We added these tasty little berries to our foraging list last year, and my only regret is that we didn’t discover them sooner. They look like blackerries, but they taste a lot sweeter and they don’t have any thorns.
We went picking last night, so I thought I’d show you how it’s done.
Mulberry trees can get quite tall, so you have to get a bit creative to get at the fruit. The common approach is to cover the ground with sheets, and then climb the tree to shake the branches, until all the ripe berries fall out.
To avoid climbing, we devised our own system.
My husband took 50 feet of rope, tied a knot in the end of it; and then pushed the knot through a hole that he drilled through the side of a tennis ball.
This gave us something that we could throw up and over a branch. We tested it out yesterday, and it worked beautifully. We just grab both ends of the rope, and shake.
Once all of the ripe berries have fallen. We collect them from the sheet, and then move on to the next branch. Pretty easy, really; and it results in lots of free fruit.
Want to try your hand at foraging for mulberries? Here’s some information to help you identify mulberry trees in your community.
Mulberries are gaining attention these days in permaculture circles around the world. They’re easy to grow, prolific, and new hardy varieties mean that they can be grown anywhere between zone 4 and 9. Minimal maintenance and large crops make them a great choice for a backyard orchard.
Growing up in southern California (zone 9), fruitless mulberries were one of the very best shade trees. Drought tolerant, they’d grow in the desert where few other trees besides palms could thrive. When our horses stripped the bark from one of our younger trees, it came back from the rootstock as a fruit-bearing mulberry and I had the chance to try my very first one. That resilient, drought-tolerant rootstock produced truly spectacular fruits.
Now I find myself on the other side of the country, living in zone 4 Vermont, and plant breeders have recently developed a number of cold hardy mulberry trees. I’m excited once again to be able to pick these rich fruits right off the tree.
Mulberries are small blackberry-like fruits that grow on small to medium-sized trees. While the fruits are somewhat similar to blackberries when ripe, they’re actually not related at all. The small unripe fruits look like some sort of alien lifeform just after pollination, and they don’t really look like berries at all until they’re fully ripe.
Mulberry trees can be grown from cuttings, grafted or planted from seed. Like many other tree species, including apples, they don’t come true to seed and seedlings will be somewhat different than their parent. Softwood cuttings during the growing season are the most reliable propagation method (here’s how).
Regardless of how the mulberry tree gets started, care is pretty straightforward. Mulberry trees prefer well-drained, fertile soil and they’re generally drought tolerant. For the most part, they’re adaptable trees, but they cannot withstand wet soils. In the first year of growth, the trees require 1 inch of rain per week and will need to be watered if the weather is persistently dry. Once they’re established they shouldn’t require watering except in the dryest climates.
Plant mulberry trees roughly 25 feet apart. For the first few years, they’ll grow rapidly. Once they reach a height of 25-30 feet tall, growth slows down dramatically but be sure to allow space for that initial growth spurt. Newly planted trees begin bearing fruit in as little as 2-3 years.
Like blackberries and blueberries, mulberry fruits stain, and it’s best to plant them far from common walking areas. Even if you’re diligent with picking, there’s still likely to be a substantial windfall crop, and many people harvest by laying out sheets below the trees.
An old-time permaculture book called Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture recommends planting them so that they overhang chicken yards or pig pens. It claims that a single mature tree can produce enough fruit to feed several pigs for at least a month with no supplemental feed during the fruiting period. That doesn’t sound like rounded forage, but it’s still a great way to supplement and dramatically reduce your feed costs. Rather than thinking about dropped fruit as an inconvenience, think about where a mulberry tree can be planted to add value with any fallen fruit.
Mulberries generally ripen in early summer, with harvests spread out over a full month. Once a tree is mature it can produce between 60 and 100 gallons of fruit, much of which will be harvested by birds. Still, even excusing large losses to support bird populations, it’s possible to harvest way more than a family can eat from a single tree. In the first few years of growth, crops will obviously be smaller.
Since mulberries are preferred by birds, some farmers actually grow them as decoy crops to protect more valuable market crops. If a scarecrow and bird netting won’t keep birds off your summer fruit, try a mulberry tree instead. Even if you never harvest the mulberries, it’ll improve your harvest of other things around the same time like pie cherries and summer raspberries.
Cold Hardy Mulberries for Zone 4
For many years, just about every variety of mulberry was considered hardy to zone 5 or 6. Relatively recent plant breeding has developed several cold-hardy varieties that seem to grow and fruit well in zone 4. If you’re in a warmer zone, there are dozens of varieties to choose from.
Depending on the variety, mulberries are either self-pollinating or require separate male and female trees to produce fruit. Be sure to check on the exact variety and make sure you get a male if necessary. Up here in the north country (zone 4), all the cold-hardy mulberry varieties I know of are self-fruitful.
- Illinois Everbearing Mulberry – The most commonly available variety of hardy mulberry. Fruit ripen slowly over a long period, sometimes as long as 3 months. Heavy crops of sweet fruit annually and hardy to -25 F.
- Northrop Mulberry – Sweet fruited and hardy.
- Viola’s Lavender Mulberry – The product of a chance seedling in Southern Indiana. Has a light lavender colored fruit that is supposedly less staining than darker colored varieties. One of the earliest ripening cultivars. Self Fertile and hardy to zone 4.
- Collier Mulberry – An early fruiting hardy mulberry variety.
- Kokuso Mulberry – A Korean variety with wonderful fruit flavor. Fruits ripen early and over a relatively long season.
- Gerardi Mulberry – A natural dwarf, trees say under 6′ tall making them perfect for the backyard grower. Ripens over a period of 4-5 weeks. Space trees 6 to 10 feet apart. Self Fertile.
- David Smith Everbearing Mulberry – Trees originate in Oxnard, NY and are hardy to zone 4, producing heavy crops of berries. Said to be more compact than many varieties.
There are three more varieties I can find that are supposedly hardy to zone 4, but there’s little specific information about each cultivar. Those include Russian #1, Lawson Dawson Mulberry, St. James Mulberry and Oscar’s Mulberry.