Introduction and description
Morus, a genus of flowering plants in the family Moraceae, comprises 10–16 species of deciduous trees commonly known as mulberries growing wild and under cultivation in many temperate world regions. The mulberry has royal associations dating back to Tudor times. The tree has a spreading habit and becomes crooked and gnarled with time, making an architectural feature. It has attractive leaves and tasty fruit that are rarely found in the shops.
The mulberry fruit is a multiple fruit, 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) long. Immature fruits are white, green, or pale yellow. In many species, the fruits turn pink and then red while ripening, then dark purple or black, and have a sweet flavor when fully ripe. The fruits of the white-fruited cultivar - morus alba- are white when ripe; the fruit in this cultivar is also sweet, but has a very mild flavor compared with the darker variety.
It was somewhat difficult to know whether to classify this plant as a food or a medicine as it is clearly both, in the end we have decided to put it in the food section with all its observations. The reason is that you eat the mulberry as a food, and thereby gain its medicinal benefits, rather than employing it solely as a medicine.
Morus alba, known as white mulberry, is a short-lived, fast-growing, small to medium-sized mulberry tree, which grows to 10–20 m tall. The species is native to northern China, and is widely cultivated and naturalized elsewhere (United States, Mexico, Australia, Kyrgyzstan, Argentina, etc.).
It is known as shahatut शहतूत in Hindi, Tuta in Sanskrit, Tuti in Marathi, Dut in Turkish and Toot in Persian in Azerbaijani and in Armenian.
The white mulberry is widely cultivated to feed the silkworms employed in the commercial production of silk, but it also has considerable medicinal value. As a medicine it is known as Sang-Pai-Pi.
In contrast Morus nigra, the black mulberry is a Deciduous fruiting tree, flowering in Spring with an average height and spread of about 8m (25ft) by 10m (30ft)
Despite the nursery rhymes implying the mulberry is a bush, the mulberry is a tree, not a bush and it can become a massive tree. If left to grow wild, some varieties can easily get upwards of 80 feet high, with a large spreading canopy. Mulberry trees are also extremely productive some of them giving a couple hundred pounds of fruit a year. The reason we don’t see mulberries so much in the market place is that they tend to bruise and leak easily, making them not so commercially viable.
It likes an open and sunny site but is hardy and easy to grow.
Mulberries flourish in soils that are deep, moisture-retentive, but well-drained..
- Plant mulberries in spring as the soil warms up
- Bare-rooted specimens usually establish well, but if buying a container-grown specimen, check that the roots are not circling
- Try to find a specimen that is part-trained. This will create a well-formed tree more quickly
- Allow 5-10m (16-33ft) in diameter for the tree to develop its spreading habit
- Improve the soil over the planting area before digging the planting pit
- Staking mulberry trees in the early years will prevent windrock, leading to good root development
- Ensure that the young tree does not dry out in the first few seasons to aid establishment
Mulberries can be grown in containers for 10-15 years if watered carefully in summer. Use a good loam-based compost such as John Innes No 2. Before growth re-starts in spring, pot the tree on each year into a slightly larger container.
In late winter, apply a general purpose fertiliser such as Growmore or fish, blood and bone at a rate of 70g per sq m (2oz per sq yd). In spring, apply a mulch of organic matter such as well-rotted manure
Fruiting may not begin until eight or nine years after planting. The picking season is over three weeks in August and September. Gather the fruit by shaking branches over a sheet spread on the ground. Wear gloves if you want to avoid the fruit staining your hands
Pruning and training
Any necessary formative training is most likely to have been have been carried out on the nursery before purchase. In the open garden, grow and train formative pruning as a standard or half-standard tree. Prune mulberries when they are fully dormant; about a month after leaf fall. This should prevent sap bleeding from the cut surfaces.
Each winter, remove badly placed shoots that interfere with the shape of the tree. Remove any that appear on the trunk below the framework and those that are dead, broken, crossing or over-crowded. It is always best to support low-hanging branches by driving a forked stake into the ground and resting the branch on this, cushioned with sacking. Avoid remedial pruning, since mulberries bleed sap from the cuts.
Growing a mulberry as an espalier is more unusual but an ideal way to use a south-, south west- or west–facing wall. Plants grown in this way will need a space 4.5m (15ft) wide and 2.4m (8ft) high. Buy a young tree of around two or three years old, and train the plant as for an apple and pear espaliers. Once established, prune lateral shoots, (side shoots) that arise from branches and stem back to three or four leaves to produce short fruiting spurs. This needs to be carried out in late summer, just as growth is slowing down
Prune bushes in winter, cut down the leader to about 1.35-1.7 (4½-5½ft) just above some strong side-shoots. Use these to develop a framework of 8-10 branches, minimal pruning will then be necessary.
Mulberries are not overly prone to problems but watch for bacterial leaf spot which can cause dieback. Cut out any affected branches in autumn and burn them.
Protection from birds may be necessary by using netting on smaller trees
As trees mature, mulberries have a tendency to lean or suffer from split limbs. To avoid splits or having to make large pruning cuts, prop low-lying branches before their weight causes them to break.
In Asia, type 2 diabetes is treated with mulberry leaf. Studies supporting this usage include the demonstration that
· mulberry leaf reduced blood glucose in normal rats and rats with diabetes induced by streptozotocin or alloxan
· reduced fasting blood glucose and A1C concentrations in 12 subjects with type 2 diabetes
· relative to glybenclamide therapy, reduced fasting blood glucose, serum lipids, and lipid peroxidation indicators in subjects with type 2 diabetes.
Mulberry leaves have also been used for horses to help with worms in traditional medicine and there is also some use of mulberry leaves for cattle – also for worms. The quercertin in mulberry leaves is also used to help people with atherosclerosis [see references].
Mulberries are very high in antioxidants. They also contain large amounts of vitamin C as well as Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Iron, and Dietary Fibre. They are also high in minerals like potassium, manganese, and magnesium and contain the B vitamins, B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid.
Mulberries contain flavinoids and phyto-nutrients and are extremely high in anthocyanins said to “help fight against cancer as well as reduce aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections”. The berries also contain resveratrol, now being considered as a herbal protocol for the treatment of lymes disease
The ripe berries are used in traditional medicine as a gentle laxative. However, like all berries they have far more medicinal properties than this – see the observations.
After you harvest mulberries they deteriorate quickly. They’ll stay good for a couple of days, but they keep longer in the fridge.
The berries can be eaten raw, or they can be frozen, bottled or made into jam. They work well dehydrated. Like any berries, they can be used in pies, ice “creams”, sorbets and yogurt. In order to make a pie use your favorite blackberry pie recipe and substitute mulberries for the blackberries, but add a little more sugar as they’re not as sweet.
They can also be used to make homemade wine. Mulberry juice stains but its natural colouring can be used in drinks to impart an intense colour to the drink. Mulberry juice or puree also makes a very good jelly.
Not only can the berries be eaten but mulberry leaves are also edible as well. However, it is very important to note that mulberry leaves MUST BE COOKED BEFORE THEY ARE EATEN. They can be used instead of grape leaves where the leaves are stuffed.
Iced Mulberry Mousse
For a 750ml bottle:
· 450g/1lb mulberries
· 710 ml vodka or gin
· 150g/5½oz caster sugar
· 1 handful of roasted almonds
Put the fruit into a large sterilised jar with the vodka or gin and the sugar. Add the roasted almonds
Close the jar tightly and put in a dark place for two to three months, turning it every few days until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Strain off the mulberries and almonds. Taste the liqueur and check that it is sweet enough. When adding more sugar, turn the jar regularly until it dissolves.
Pour the liqueur through a funnel into a dry, warm sterilised bottle and seal.
The discarded fruit is absolutely delicious when eaten on top of ice-cream or yogurt, or used as a filling for a tart or a pie.
1 cup of gluten free flour
1 cup organic sugar- brown sugar works well
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 cups mulberries
Melt butter in bottom of baking dish.
Mix flour, sugar, milk and vanilla together then spread on top of melted butter.
Mix mulberries with 1/3 cup of sugar- heat to melt sugar.
Pour on top of flour mixture in baking dish.
Bake for 35-40 minutes in 375 oven–or until done (won’t wiggle when you shake it).
Serve with homemade ice cream
1 cup of yogurt,
1/3 cup pureed sieved mulberries,
1 tablespoon coconut oil,
1 tsps. raw honey
1/2 tsps. organic vanilla
|Liquidise all together and serve!
References and further reading
- Miyahara C, Miyazawa M, Satoh S, Sakai A, Mizusaki S: Inhibitory effects of mulberry leaf extract on postprandial hyperglycemia in normal rats. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol 50:161–164, 2004
- Chen F, Nakashima N, Kimura I, Kimura M: Hypoglycemic activity and mechanisms of extracts from mulberry leaves (folium mori) and cortex mori radicis in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. Yakugaku Zasshi 115:476–482, 1995
- Ye F, Shen ZF, Qiao FX, Zhao DY, Xie MZ: Experimental treatment of complications in alloxan diabetic rats with alpha-glucosidase inhibitor from the Chinese medicinal herb ramulus mori. Yao Xue Xue Bao 37:108–112, 2002
- Murata K, Yatsunami K, Mizukami O, Toriumi Y, Hoshino G, Kamei T: Effects of propolis and mulberry leaf extract on type 2 diabetes. Focus Alternat Complement Ther 8:4524–525, 2003
- Andallu B, Suryakantham V, Srikanthi BL, Reddy GK: Effect of mulberry (Morus indica L.) therapy on plasma and erythrocyte membrane lipids in patients with type 2 diabetes. Clin Chim Acta 314:47–53, 2001
- Taniguchi S, Asano N, Tomino F, Miwa I: Potentiation of glucose-induced insulin secretion by fagomine, a pseudo-sugar isolated from mulberry leaves. Horm Metab Res 30:679–683, 1998
- Enkhamaa B, Shiwaku K, Katsube T, Kitajima K, Anuurad E, Yamasaki M, Yamane Y: Mulberry (Morus alba L.) leaves and their major flavonol queretin 3-(6-malonylglucoside) attenuate atherosclerotic lesion development in LDL receptor-deficient mice. J Nutr 135:729–734, 2005
- Varadacharylul AB: Antioxidant role of mulberry (Morus indica L. cv. Anantha) leaves in streptozotocin-diabetic rats. Clin Chim Acta 348:215–218, 2004
- Srivastava S, Kapoor R, Thathola A, Srivastava RP: Mulberry (Morus alba) leaves as human food: a new dimension of sericulture. Int J Food Sci & Nutr 54:411–416, 2003
- Dr Duke's list of Chemicals and their Biological Activities in: Morus alba L. (Moraceae) -- Sang-Pai-Pi, White Mulberry 027433
- Dr Duke's list of Chemicals in Plants with Antipsoriatic Activity 019352
- Dr Duke's list of mercury chelating plants 017825
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing PROLINE 017956
- Dr Duke's list of Plants Containing QUERCETIN 021446
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing RESVERATROL 023253
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing SULFUR 021408
- Dr Duke's list of plants having chemicals with vasodilatory activity 017836
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiatherogenic and Antiatheroscleroticactivity 018349
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiatherosclerotic Activity 018414
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (breast) activity 018453
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (cervix) activity 018454
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (lung) activity 018462
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticataract activity 018378
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antidermatitic activity 018427
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antidote to Heavy metals activity 018388
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiglaucomic activity 019952
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antigranulocytopenic activity 018418
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antihemorrhagic activity 018446
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antipsoriatic Activity 018422
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiretroviral activity 018318
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antitrypanosomic Activity of high potency 018272
- Dr Duke's list of plants with hemopoietic effects - 2 All plants with activity 012485
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Herpetifuge activity 019494
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Myorelaxant Activity 019681
- Influenza and Isoquercetin 010387
- Mrs Grieve on Mulberries 027434
- Mrs Grieves's Mulberry jam 027436
- Mrs Grieves's Mulberry wine 027435