Growing up in California was a great time. We had a quarter-acre lot in a suburb of San Jose. My parents loved fruit trees and gardening so we always had fresh fruit and veggies. That also meant I had to spend time pulling weeds in the garden before I could play on Saturdays, haha. One of my favorite trees we had was a mulberry tree. I can’t remember the variety but it was always loaded with delicious mulberries.
In this article, I will be talking all about mulberries. I will tell you where they originated from, where they grow, what the health benefits are, how to eat them, other uses for them, as well as what they taste like.
Join me as we take a deep dive into the wonderful world of mulberries.
Where do mulberries come from and where do they grow?
The mulberry tree is not what I would consider an “exotic” fruit tree and it is very commonly grown, however, it is not one where you would commonly find their fruit in large supermarkets, at least where I live. I never saw them in the supermarkets in California, and never see them for sale in Arizona. I am guessing plenty of farmer’s markets sell them.
Mulberries (Morus is the Genus name and is part of the Moraceae family of plants) originated or are native to temperate parts of North America and Asia. With that said, they can grow and are grown all over the world. It grows in places like Europe, China, the Middle East, North Africa, India, the United States, Canada, South America, and Australia. This is not an exhaustive list, just some of the most common places where mulberries are grown.
The trees are among some of the easier trees to grow. So lots of people like growing them. They can be pruned and kept like tall bushes or let grow to heights that can reach up to 60 to 70 feet, depending on the variety. Typically they are between 25 and 40 feet tall. There are also dwarf varieties that only get as tall as 10 to 15 feet.
Mulberries love temperate climates and can be grown and do well in zones 4 through 9.
They grow extremely well in Phoenix where I live. Below is a picture of a Shangri La mulberry tree growing in the backyard of a neighbor of my friends.
NOTE: If you are considering growing a mulberry tree and have an HOA check with them first if you are allowed to grow them. They do produce pollen which can cause severe allergies in some people. Because of this, some HOAs do not allow them to be grown.
Mulberry trees come in fruiting and nonfruiting varieties.
What are the different mulberry varieties?
There are several mulberry varieties with the colors of the berries being either white, red, or black. Each one has a different flavor but they all have the distinctive “mulberry” taste which I will talk more about further down in the article.
And here is a list of some of the popular varieties, again there are many more varieties than this:
- Sweet Lavender
- Shangri La
- Big White
The Pakistan mulberry is a fascinating variety it features extremely long berries which range in length from 2 to 4 inches.
Also, there is a white variety of Pakistan mulberries. Again each of one these mulberry varieties has a little bit different flavor ranging from sweet to tart.
What are the health benefits of the mulberry?
There are many health benefits that this awesome fruit provides. Here are a few of the benefits:
- Rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly Vitamin C
- Rich in antioxidants
- Good source of plant compounds
- Can help to lower cholesterol
- May help improve blood sugar
- Flavonoids present fight free radicals to limit oxidative stress.
- Can help eye health
How to eat mulberries
Mulberries are ripe and ready to eat when they fall off the tree really easily. You can literally shake the trunk of smaller trees and the fruit will fall right off. Lots of people will lay down tarps to catch all the berries that fall. You can also just pick them right off the tree.
You can leave the little stem on and eat that, or just hold it, eat the berry, and toss the stem. I regularly eat it with or without the stem. Eating mulberries raw is very common or putting them into pies, or making jam, jelly, syrup for pancakes, waffles, etc. Drying them is another common way to preserve and eat them. Besides eating them raw and in pies I like to put them in my cereal.
For thousands of years, they have been used in Chinese herbal medicine as well.
NOTE: The juice from the mulberry can stain clothes, fingers, and countertops, so just be careful to wash up fairly quickly if you get the juice of the berries anywhere that you don’t want to be stained.
What does the mulberry taste like?
First of all, taste is very subjective. For example, I grew up eating mulberries so they taste like mulberries to me. Because of that it is kind of hard to explain what mulberries taste like. But I will do my best to give you an idea of the taste.
First, the texture reminds me of a very ripe and soft blackberry or raspberry.
Some people think mulberries taste kind of like a blackberry. Others describe the taste as being similar to grapes, which I find odd, I don’t really think they taste like grapes. And others say it reminds them of a cross between a blueberry and a grapefruit. Again, the taste ranges from tart to very sweet. Some white varieties are so sweet they almost taste like pure sugar.
When ripe they are very easy to eat.
Other important uses for the Mulberry Tree – Silk and Paper
For thousands of years, mulberry trees have been grown for silk. Because the silkworm only eats mulberry leaves. When the worm has eaten enough leaves it makes a cocoon out of silk fibers. It then turns into a pupa and later into a fully formed silk moth.
Most of the world’s silk is made from the silk produced by the worms. Isn’t that interesting? China and India produce most of the world’s silk.
Making paper from the bark of the mulberry tree is another important use for this magnificent tree. The Chinese and other cultures have been making paper from the bark for thousands of years.
The mulberry tree and the fruit it produces is one amazing tree. They are easy to grow have prolific berries which have lots of uses, and are just plain awesome.
I hope you enjoyed learning about one of my favorite fruits and trees.
Watch this video I made all about mulberries!