Mulberry is any of several distinct small to medium-sized deciduous trees.
There are of 10–16 species of mulberry.
Black, red, and white mulberry are widespread in southern Europe, the Middle East, northern Africa and Indian subcontinent, where the tree and the fruit have names under regional dialects.
The species vary greatly in longevity from 25 to more than 100 years.
Mulberry trees are fast-growing when young, but soon become slow-growing and rarely exceed 10–15 meters (30–50 ft) tall.
The leaves are alternately arranged, simple and often lobed and serrated on the margin. Mulberry leaves, particularly those of the White Mulberry, Morus alba, are important as food of the silkworm, the cocoon of which is used to make silk.
Mulberry trees are either dioecious or monoecious, and sometimes will change from one sex to another. The flowers are held on short, green, pendulous, nondescript 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 mulberry fruit is a multiple fruit, approximately 2–3 cm (0.8-1.2 in) long. Immature fruits are white, green, or pale yellow. In most 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 are white when ripe; the fruit of this cultivar is also sweet, but has a mild flavor compared with darker varieties.
Because of their sweet flavor, impressive nutritional value and numerous health benefits, mulberries are gaining increased interest worldwide.
There are 43 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of mulberries.
This fruit is a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and iron and a good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, magnesium and potassium.
The health benefits of mulberries include improve blood sugar control, lower cholesterol, reduce cancer risk, improve blood circulation, cure anemia, better heart health, promote brain health, improve immunity, improve digestion, aid in weight loss, build bone tissues and boost the immune system.
Mulberry trees were well known in the ancient civilizations of the world.
Mulberries were popular with the ancient Greeks, and the fruit was dedicated to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.
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.
They were also famous fruit trees, because of the delicious berry fruits that were abundantly produced by fast growing trees.
The first mulberry was planted in England in the 1500s.
General Oglethorpe, in 1733, imported 500 white mulberry trees to Fort Frederica in Georgia to encourage silk production at the English colony of Georgia.
Mulberry trees are also valued for their ornamental effects.
Vincent van Gogh featured the mulberry tree in some of his paintings, notably Mulberry Tree. He painted it after a stay at an asylum, and he considered it a technical success.