The mulberry is multi-faceted with different trees producing different colored fruits, and all mulberries. The three particular mulberry trees are the black mulberry native to Southeast Asia, widespread in Southern Europe, Middle East, Northern Africa, and India. The red mulberry is native to eastern North America and has the strongest flavor. The white mulberry also grows in North America but was originally brought from China in the 1800’s. The white mulberry leaves are the main food supply for silk worms.
Mulberry trees produce fruit similar to blackberries with an elongated shape. As fresh berries, they are highly and quickly perishable. It is best to eat them immediately if you are not cooking or freezing them. This fruit will leave a mess on sidewalks or on other hard surfaces, and ripe black mulberries will stain whatever it touches, including your fingers. Mulberries contain some seeds but seem to melt in your mouth. The fruit color of the different mulberries treesis not the identifying factor to know which mulberry tree it is.
White mulberries, for example, can produce white, lavender or black fruit. White mulberry fruits are generally very sweet but often lack in needed tartness, and some consider them unpalatable for humans. Red mulberry fruits are usually deep red, almost black, and its flavor is very to that of the black mulberry. Black mulberry fruits are large and juicy, with a good balance of sweetness and tartness, making them the best flavored species of mulberry. Some have said that this tartness in some ways is reminiscent of grapefruit. It is interesting to note that mulberries ripen over an extended period of time unlike many fruits which seem to ripen at the same time. You can use them in pies, tarts, wines, and in teas, or eaten fresh.
You’ll recall I’m sure the English nursery rhyme and singing game mentioning the mulberry. Perhaps you played this game: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (rather than tree). Even Vincent van Gogh featured the mulberry tree in some of his paintings, more notably the “Mulberry Tree”.
The health benefits of mulberries provide many minerals and vitamins (C, B complex, K, and E), high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins which aid against cancer, aging, inflammation, diabetes, neurological diseases, antioxidant qualities, bacterial infections, iron, potassium, niacin, riboflavin as well as folic acid. They are another one of the healthy berries/fruits that are good for you.