Do you know - Fruit of mulberry is rich source of vitamins C, A, E and K and minerals. Can be grown in Pot

The mulberry tree is one of nature’s most famous small tree species, mainly due to its famous red, purple or black berries and its mention in two popular nursery rhymes.

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This deciduous tree species, which falls under the scientific plant genus Morus, has at least 10-15 sub-species, which are found in Asia as well as North and South America. Three well-known varieties are white, red and black mulberry trees.

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Interesting Mulberry Facts:

  • Mulberry can reach 30 to 80 feet in height. White mulberry is the largest, black mulberry the smallest type of mulberry (it grows in the form of shrub).
  • Mulberry has oval leaves with irregularly lobed or toothed edges. Bright green color of the leaves changes into yellow during the autumn. Leaves are alternately arranged on the branches.
  • Mulberry can produce male and female flowers on the same plant (monoecious plant) or on the separate trees (dioecious plant). Flowers are greenish or creamy-colored, arranged in short catkins designed for the pollination by wind. Some types of mulberry are able to produce fruit without pollination.
  • Fruit of mulberry is an aggregate fruit composed of numerous small drupes (miniature fruit filled with one seed) located around centrally positioned stem. Unlike in raspberries, stem remains in the center of the fruit after the harvest.
  • Fruit of mulberry is rich source of vitamins C, A, E and K and minerals such as potassium, iron and magnesium.
  • Fruit of mulberry can be consumed raw or in the form of jams, muffins and pies.
  • Fruitless varieties of mulberry are cultivated in ornamental purposes.
  • Leaves of white mulberry are important source of food for the silkworms (caterpillars of silk moth). Caterpillars encapsulate themselves into the casings made of silk threads that are used in the industry of silk. Cultivation of white mulberry for the manufacture of silk is few thousand years old tradition in China.
  • Mulberry is associated with evil spirits in Germany due to ancient belief that devil uses root of mulberry tree to polish his boots.
  • Ancient Romans used leaves of white mulberry in treatment of diseases of mouth, trachea and lungs.
  • Native Americans used mulberry as laxative and as a cure for dysentery.
  • Orange, red, purple, black, and blue pigments isolated from the fruit of mulberry are used as coloring agents in the industry of food and fabrics.
  • Lightweight wood of mulberry is used in the manufacture of fence posts and barrels. Branches of mulberry are used in the manufacture of baskets.
  • Red mulberry can survive up to 75 years, while black mulberry can live and produce fruit for hundreds of years.

Health benefits of mulberries

Mulberries are not just known to be delicious, but are also known to be highly nutritional. These berries are packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and B-complex vitamins. At the same time, they are also known for their vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium content.

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  • Delicious, fleshy, succulent mulberries are less in calories (just 43 calories per 100 g). They compose of health promoting phyto-nutrient compounds like polyphenol pigment antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.

  • Mulberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries have potential health effects against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.

  • The berries contain resveratrol, another polyphenol flavonoid antioxidant. Resveratrol protects against stroke risk by altering molecular mechanisms in the blood vessels; reducing their susceptibility to damage through reduced activity of angiotensin (a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would elevate blood pressure) but potentiating production of the vasodilator hormone, nitric oxide.

  • In addition, these berries are an excellent sources of vitamin-C (36.4 mg per 100, about 61% of RDI), which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation and scavenge harmful free radicals.

  • Further, the berries also contain small amounts of vitamin A, and vitamin E, in addition to the above-mentioned antioxidants. Consumption of mulberry provides another group of health promoting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin, ß-carotene and a-carotene in small but notably significant amounts. Altogether, these compounds help act as protect from harmful effects of oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.

  • Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid selectively concentrates into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant functions and protects the retina from the harmful ultraviolet rays through light-filtering actions.

  • Mulberries are an excellent source of iron, which is a rare feature among berries, contain 1.85 mg/100 g of fruits (about 23% of RDI). Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.

  • They also good source of minerals like potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

  • They are rich in B-complex group of vitamins and vitamin K. Contain very good amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid. These vitamins are function as co-factors and help body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

How to Care for a Mulberry Tree

Growing and looking after this fruit-bearing tree is pretty basic and rather simple. The various points of mulberry tree care are elaborated on below.

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Soil and Water
Do not plant a mulberry tree’s seeds or saplings near pavements, driveways or paved surfaces. Once the tree bears fruit, such surfaces can be heavily stained with fruit and bird droppings. As it grows, the mulberry tree will grow tall and will soon cast an impressively wide shadow.

To prevent overcrowding and accumulation of moisture, plant the tree at least 15 feet away from adjoining trees. It is a hardy species and will grow in moderate to average soil quality but not in gravelly or chalky soils.

For optimum growth, the soil should be deep, loamy, fertile and should drain well. The soil should not remain soggy and wet. In hot climates where the soil can dry quickly, apply a ring of mulch or compost around the tree, to help the soil retain moisture.

Mulch replenishes the soil’s nutrients and mineral content as well. The mulberry tree requires fertilizer once in a while, to help enrich the soil’s nutrient levels. Use a balanced fertilizer and apply it once during spring. When applying mulch, make sure it does not touch the base of the tree.

This tree is not very water-dependent and can survive even in drought-like conditions. But a lack of water can affect the quality of fruit borne, and the mulberries will fall prematurely from the tree. In summertime, water the mulberry tree well.

Make sure the soil is dry between successive watering. Newly planted trees should be watered well once a week, during their first year of growth.

Light and Temperature
The three types of mulberry trees have different temperature needs. The black mulberry is the most delicate of the entire species and is very vulnerable to cold climates. Being a tropical tree, it has a very low temperature tolerance, so it needs to be planted in a warm climate.

It should be planted in an area that receives direct sunlight for at least 8 hours. Mulberry trees will flourish in shady areas but the quality and quantity of the fruit is poor and even the tree’s structure is weak. Colder the climate, more the sunlight needed.

The mulberry tree can grow like a weed in the right conditions, especially the white mulberry sub-species. Pruning the tree will help in improving air circulation and prevent branch overcrowding. It also provides the tree with a strong and sturdy frame.

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Encourage a tree shape with 2 main branches and manageable number of lateral branches. Too many branches or heavy long branches with a lot of leaves can stress the tree, inhibiting its growth and affecting its overall health.

So trim branches back, after the tree is 1-2 years old. Remove dead branches in the winter, to encourage new and healthy branches to grow. The mulberry tree is known to leak sap when cut, so do not make cuts more than 2 inches in diameter, as the tree will bleed sap heavily.

It’s easy to see that the mulberry tree is a little-or-no-fuss, beautiful tree that requires minimal looking after and care. Plus it will bear delicious fruit, that can be eaten raw or enjoyed in various culinary ways and as a dense tree, will provide shade in a sunny garden.

Along with taking care of the tree’s needs with respect to water, light etc., one must remember to be patient. It takes 1-2 years for the mulberry to mature and nearly 2-3 years more for the tree to bear fruit.

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If you wish to enjoy the ornamental beauty of the tree, and are not interested in harvesting the berries, you should plant a fruitless variety or cultivar.