The Mulberry is well known. Almost everyone can identify the branches laden with purple pods, the shimmering green leaves, and the deep purple carpet of fallen fruit, welcoming us to join in the festivities. Many times I have watched birds take flight from the deciduous trees, their beaks full of bounty. I remember walking down the sidewalk in summer trying to dodge the pattern of purple on the pavement. But as common as these trees are, they contain a mystery. Is the mulberry another tasty pitstop? Or an overlooked super food? Even the nursery rhyme seems to down play this wonder plant. “Here we go ’round the mulberry bush?” Their saplings are kinda scrappy, but make no mistake this is no “bush” that goes the distance in terms of health benefits.
There are three types of mulberry tree; The white mulberry native to east/central China. The black mulberry native to west Asia, and the red mulberry native to the eastern USA. They are of the Morus fruit family, which is the main food source for silkworms.
When ripe, these purple pods resemble a dark red gem, and are sweeter the higher you go. When examined closely your bound to find some bugs. But never fear! Bugs are a valuable source of protein, and their caloric content is not to be neglected.
Historically the mulberry has been used to treat weakness, fatigue, anemia, to calm the nerves, balance internal secretions and nourish the yin and blood (commonly used in China as a blood tonic.) The leaves alone contain a wide variety of proteins, polyphenols, flavonoids, steroids, triterpenes, vitamins and minerals (including ascorbic acid and beta carotene.) The leaf can be made into a tea which contains 1-Deoxynojirimycin (or DNJ.) Mulberry leaves are polymorphic, (there can be 3 different shapes on a single branch.) Making a tea from the leaves has a powerful antioxidant effect, lowers cholesterol and reduces inflammation.
The berries are sweet when ripe, but actually develop a more robust flavor when dried. They pack a range of photo-nutrients such as polyphenol, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins like Riboflavin (B-2), B-6, niacin, folic acid and vitamin K.) Also they contain potassium, manganese and magnesium and reservatol which protects against stroke, and reduces blood pressure. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, C, and E and protects us from free radicals. Mulberries are also an excellent source of iron, which is rare among berries. Not to mention, healthy carbohydrates which make up 90 of the calorie content. At 2.4 grams of fiber (10% daily dose) 2.6 mg of iron, 1.3 grams of sugar, and 51 grams of Vitamin C these berries are more than meets the eye.
The best way to harvest them is bring a tarp, bowl, or jar, take hold of a branch and begin shaking. “It’s a lot like getting to know your neighbor. The friendlier your handshake, the more they’ll have a good first impression.” –Sascha Kyssa, Creative Director, Founder, Naturewise Academy.
So next time you find yourself in the presence of this amazing tree, remember to “go ’round the mulberry tree,” and let your body do what it came to do. Sing, dance and celebrate with a mouthful of miracle mystery mulberries.
© Morehead Media 2015