Mulberry belongs to moraceae family. Mulberries are the deciduous trees native to the warm temperate and subtropical regions of the world. Mulberry mostly found in Asia, Africa, and America. There are 24 species of mulberry trees, many of which have numerous different varieties. The most commonly grown species are black, white, and red. The most important species of the Morus genas are Morus alba with a range of white to black colored mulberry fruit and the red colored mulberry species are found in mnigra. Both species grow and produce satisfactorily in areas under mild temperate or under Mediterranean climates. Morus species are deciduous and a period of low temperatures during the winter are required to break dormancy. Mulberries are sweet, hanging fruit having their unique flavor. In terms of appearance, the berries grow too fast when they are young, but gradually slow as their color changes from white to pink or red and eventually settling on dark purple or black. Fruit color of mulberry may be white, purple (Morus alba), black (Morus nigra) or red (Morus laevigata and Morus rubra) when they are ripe. Recently, black coloured mulberry species received an immense importance due to higher contents of phenolic compounds and having a unique delicious refreshing taste. The Pakistan mulberry is sweet with a mild raspberry-like flavor. They are the sweetest when they are very dark and become “dull” (when they lose their glossy shine). It is not quite as tart as a raspberry and a bit less juicy. In fact, this fruit is rather dry compared to other fruits and has an almost vegetable quality. As a comparison, the Pakistan mulberry is firmer and dryer than the Persian mulberry, which makes it less easy to handle. A major plus for this fruit is that there are no crunchy seeds to get stuck in your teeth like a raspberry. The berry can be eaten whole. However, there is a stringy central core to the fruit which is edible but does not add much value to the taste. Therefore, some people like to strip the berry clean of the central core by pulling the fruit through their teeth and discarding the core. Dark coloured mulberries have been used as a folk remedy to treat many diseases such as hypertension, arthritis and anemia, diabetes and cancer. Mulberry tree is known to be hardy and self-pollinated and in early summer they produce good flavored sweet drips that resemble black berries. Mulberry tree is fast growing when young. Mulberries can be propagated by seed and hardwood cuttings. Mulberry tree usually can grow in all types of soil if proper drainage is managed, but mostly well drained and deep soil is preferred. Mulberries need full sun and adequate space to grow properly. If mulberry tree is properly managed, then it can give fruits for years. Mulberries need to be watered in dry seasons. If the roots become too dry during drought, the fruit is likely to drop before it has fully ripened. Choosing strongest, self-pollinated, deciduous cultivar result in superior quality mulberries. Mulberries can be grown in containers for 10-15 years if watered carefully in summer. Mulberry trees are insanely 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. To grow mulberry, use a good loam-based compost. Before growth re-starts in spring, we should pot the tree on each year into a slightly larger container for its growth in container. Mulberries are generally free of pests and diseases, although cankers and dieback can occur. As trees mature, mulberries tend to lean or suffer from split limbs. Mulberry leaves, particularly those of the white mulberry are ecologically important as the sole food source of the silkworm (Bombyx mori) to enhance silk production; the practice began in China and soon spread to various other countries. Sericulture is an important business. The silkworm only feeds on mulberry leaves. Mulberry tree is also said to be animal friendly as it attracts birds and animals due to its sweet taste. Mulberry leaves are thin, glossy and light green. Some of the mulberry cultivars are Black Persian, Pakistan, Downing, Illinois Everbearing, Keaster, Rivieria, Russian, Wellington, Tehama, and Shangri-La. Mulberry branches can be used to make long-lasting baskets that is usually used by people who work in agriculture and animal husbandry. Mulberry tree bark is also used to make paper. According to chemists, mulberry leaves contain several chemical extracts for the body such as ecdysterone, androsterone, lupeol, beta-sitosterol, routine, moracetin, isoquercitrin, scopoletin, scopolin, alpha, betahexenal, benzaldehyde, eugenol, lanaloolbenzyl alcohol, butylamine, acetone, trigonelline, choline, adenine, copper, zinc, vitamins (A, B1, C and carotene) and amino acids, chlorogenic, fumarate, folate and formyltetrahydrofolic acids, monocytes and phytoestrogens. They have some fantastic health benefits for the human body. They are also used in traditional medicine in China. Mulberry fruits are used in syrup preparations as well as to flavor and color medicine. The alkaloids within the fruit boost white blood cells in the body. These are part of your immune system and will prevent you from catching as many infections or colds. Mulberry fruit can filter the blood in the body, then dirty blood is removed and thrown out the body. Mulberry is good for digestion because mulberries are high in fiber and it also act as a mild laxative. Eating mulberries on an empty stomach with a glass of water helps to treat constipation. Adding mulberries to regular diet can help to prevent indigestion. It also regulates blood sugar. This amazing fruit helps to regulate the blood sugar levels and prevent a diabetes. It also helps anemia because of their high iron content mulberry juice may help those that suffer from anemia. It has also weight loss benefits. These are major source of vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin K, protein, riboflavin, phosphorous, magnesium, folic acid and potassium. These vitamins are function as co-factors and help body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Mulberries contain antioxidant powers that lessen the damage caused by free radicals. Mulberries protect the eyes and other organs from free radicals which cause deterioration and similar damage. Men and women often look to mulberries to treat dry, blotchy and aging skin. Even sensitive skin can be safely rejuvenated with mulberry treatments, supplements and juices. It contains elevated level of antioxidants which stunts the growth of prostrate cells and tumor growth. Mulberry leaves also have some excellent benefits and can be drank as a tea. Mulberry leaves contain a natural compound called DNJ (1-deoxynojirimycin). Mulberries also contain calcium that is helpful for bones health. It also contains potassium that is helpful to cure heart diseases. By removing the bad cholesterol in the body, mulberry brings health benefits to our heart. Because mulberry can strengthen the nervous system, thus preventing the occurrence of a blockage in the bloodstream. Like more berries, they reduce oxidative stress in the body. This may be helpful in preventing mental diseases and dementia when eaten regularly as a part of balanced diet. Mulberry tea is a good medicine for cough and it also cure throat quickly. Mulberries can boost body’s red blood cell this increase the body’s distribution of oxygen and make you feel much healthier. They have been used to flavor some varieties of “Turkish delights”. The unique aroma is also used in some cosmetic products, especially liquid soaps and luxury bath items. Mulberry tree produce shade in summer because of their tall size. Black mulberries are juicier then other species and are extensively used in cooking. Black mulberries are strongly sweetest in taste while, white mulberries are lighter and sweet and red mulberries are sweet but tart. The fruit is used in pies, wines, teas and cordials. Mulberry fruit helps to remove age spots and remove the appearance of blemishes. Mulberry fruit’s anti-inflammatory activity may help to improve skin tone and act as a natural skin lightener. Many pharmacy-sold skin whiteners contain mulberry. As the acidic properties in mulberry may act to lighten skin. Mulberry treats redness and swelling also. Steep a few mulberry leaves in coconut or olive oil for a few days and apply the oil on your skin. Extremely dry skin can be easily treated this way. You can also use it with some lotion to treat dry skin and sensitive skin that is prone to irritations. Mulberry juice can promote hair growth if you apply it on your hair. Consuming mulberries regularly improves the functioning of digestive system and enhances appetite level. Mulberries are known to clean the liver and make kidneys stronger. The contents that is present in this mulberry fruit can enter our kidneys and free our kidneys from dangerous diseases. Mulberry juice is very useful for post-operative patients. It is known to accelerate the process of healing, improve the circulation of blood and even prevent the acquirement of any infection. It usually speeds up the recovery after birth, and is commonly used after surgery as an inflammatory solution. Mulberry leaves contain many gallic acids or reverse acid that can work to lower blood glucose levels. Mulberry fruit is very good for skin as it can be used as a face mask to remove dark spots from the skin. Some people use it to make food, make it a drink or juice and use it as a medicine for tapeworms, arthritis, insomnia and ringworm. Mulberries also have some unexpected side effects on health as well. Mulberry fruits contain arbutin that causes skin cancer. Research has shown that mulberry extracts should be avoided by patients undergoing chemotherapy, unless the doctor specifically permits it. Mulberry extracts should not be ingested without the physician’s supervision and approval. Mulberries are a rich source of potassium. Potassium can cause complications in people who suffer from kidney disorders and gall bladder pains. Although potassium has many health benefits and is important for our growth, mulberries must be avoided by people who have kidney diseases and gall bladder complaints. Mulberry reduces sugar level this adverse side effect of mulberry is particularly harmful and can upset the blood sugar balance in your body. Mulberry should not be planted in large population as investigated by the scientists that mulberry plants produce allergic reactions on skin. It produces a sap that is also a known irritant and contact with leaves or stems can lead to skin irritation. Too much use of mulberry can also cause harmful effects on human health but as we know that everything that has benefits also have some side effects. No doubt, it is beneficial, but we must avoid its excessive use. It is time to reconsider the health benefits and side effects of mulberries, if you are more in to the mulberry fruit diet. Take the fruit in limited amount and keep away from the side effects.
This article is collectively authored by Zoya Farrukh, Mujahid Ali, Dr. Rashad Mukhtar Balal(Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture, University of Sargodha)