Mulberry trees are hardy and can grow just about anywhere. Mulberries are important fruits and so accessible that you can get them nearly anywhere. Just by placing a blanket under a tree and shaking the limbs you get all the fruit you want to fall. Mulberries are similar to raspberries but grow in a longer cluster that clings to the stem and not as easily plucked. There are also more than 100 varieties of mulberry trees and bushes.
Mulberry trees have a lengthy growing season, giving you a more abundant crop, but it takes at least 10 years for the trees to start bearing fruits. They grow in every state but Nevada and Alaska. Several colors of berries can be represented on one tree and they can reach 40 to 80 feet high and live as long as 75 years. The mulberry trees can grow 10 feet in a single season and the fruit clusters contain a single seed, which makes mulberries a drupe. They are great in making breads, muffins, pies, jam, wine and ice cream, but they have a unique set of healing qualities as well.
Mulberry juice has a delicate fragrance and taste and can enhance your health as yin nourishing, enriching the blood, tonifying the liver and kidney, calming the nerves, promoting the metabolism of alcohol, balancing internal secretions and enhancing immunity.
For probably thousands of years these little fruits have been used by a line of traditional health practitioners. The Roman Empire used mulberries to treat disease of the mouth, throat and lungs. Native Americans used them as a laxative and to treat dysentery. They contain many high-powered nutrients such as vitamins C, K, B-complex, A and E, each giving their own constituents for health. Iron, potassium, folate, thiamine, pyridoxine, niacin and magnesium are also provided. The most beneficial resource is resveratrol that is said to promote heart health and overall vitality. Some claim eating mulberries will help, from strengthening eyesight to nourishing the blood and blackening the hair. They also are reported to increase brown fat, which has the ability to burn calories and help fight obesity.
Wild mulberries and their leaves may have been a necessary part of our forbearers’ diets, containing a plethora of ingredients such as protein and fiber. They may also aid digestion, build bone tissue, protect vision, improve metabolism and increase blood circulation.
With all the positive things we get from mulberries, why would they be banned? The City of Tucson, Arizona banned the trees a few decades ago, claiming that the immense amount of pollen they produce is harmful to humans. What?? First off the fruit develops early and drops quickly, making it messy, and they are really popular with birds that scatter the seeds widely. This makes the tree’s proliferation greater and another reason for whole cities to run them out of town. Tucson banned them in 1984 and Las Vegas followed suit for the same reason in 1991, followed by El Paso, Texas in 1992.
Mulberry trees are still the sole food for silkworm moths. They lay about 300 eggs, spinning cocoons of silk threat that are hundreds of feet long for five days. They have been associated for centuries in China, Japan and a number of European countries. In those areas the cultivation of mulberry trees is a big business. Not just the silk but also, the actual tree comes in handy for new fabrics. Over centuries they have tried to imitate silk.
I don’t know about you but I don’t intend to give up a fruit that has so many benefits to our health, and I love that silk, don’t you?
–Dr Fredda Branyon