Mulberry is a centuries-old fruit tree belonging to the Morus genus and the Moraceae family. It is widespread in Asia, Europe and North America, but its origins refer to eastern and central China and Iran. Its full botanical name is Morus celsa and includes two varieties: the white mulberry (Morus alba L.) and the black mulberry (Morus nigra L.). The first, with white fruits, was introduced in Europe with the silkworm that fed on its leaves. With the introduction of synthetic fibers, however, also the production of white mulberry gradually disappeared. The black mulberry, with fruits of the same name or purplish color, was introduced in Europe starting from the sixteenth century. The difference between the two trees lies not only in the color of the fruits, but also in the size of the leaves and in the taste of the fruits themselves which are called mulberry blackberries. The leaves of the white mulberry are large and deciduous of a bright green color with slightly acidic fruits, while those of the black mulberry are smaller with sweeter and tastier fruits. This latter variety should not be confused with blackberries which are herbaceous plants and which arise, in fact, from brambles. The mulberry has a stem up to 15 meters high and with average heights between 10 and 12 meters. Some varieties live for a hundred years, others can live for even more centuries. Mulberry flowers are both male and female and grow under the leaves. The male flowers have the shape of cylindrical spikes, while the female ones are oval. The mulberry blooms in April, while the fruits ripen in the summer and precisely between June and July. The mulberry fruit is fleshy and succulent, covered, clearly seen in the white one, by small dark filaments.
The mulberry, in addition to producing very tasty and appreciated fruits, is also a plant with medicinal properties. The parts used in herbal medicine are the leaves, roots, bark and fruits of the black mulberry, that is, the whole plant in its various components. It was also known by the ancient Romans who gave it the Latin name "morus celsa" that is high blackberry, to distinguish it from blackberry. The fruits of the white mulberry, due to the high presence of sugars, seem to have laxative effects that can help in case of constipation problems. All the various parts of the black mulberry seem to have, in addition to the laxative properties already indicated for the white mulberry, also expectorant, soothing, refreshing, tonic and purifying properties. The leaves also appear to have antibiotic properties. The black mulberry contains amino acids, folic acid, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, tannins (useful in case of gastritis) and vitamins of groups A., B and C. Also present simple sugars such as glucose and fructose, carotenoids and anthocyanins that protect blood vessels and give the fruit its dark color. Its properties also include hypoglycemic properties, mild in the case of fasting blood sugar, more evident in the case of hyperglycemia. This is why black mulberry is also used as an adjunct to diabetes treatments. One of the active ingredients of black mulberry is nitric acid. But even if some effects of mulberry are known empirically, the mechanism of interaction of this substance within the organism is not yet clear. The maximum concentration of the active ingredient formed by nitric acid is found in the juice of not yet ripe black mulberry fruits: they contain about 20, 25 grams per liter.
The uses of the mulberry are many. An alcoholic drink is obtained from the fermentation of white mulberry fruits. Asian populations used them fresh or dried to obtain a flour to be used as a sweetener. The fruits of the black mulberry are more consumed than the white one. They are used as a desser, but also to prepare fruit salads, jams and granitas. The mulberry leaves black can be used to prepare an infusion with antibiotic and diuretic properties. The recommended dose is one cup before main meals. The bark seems to have a purgative effect and can be used for the preparation of a decoction which is also useful in case of diabetes and kidney failure. The dose of bark required for the decoction is between 5 and 12 grams per half liter of water. With the fruits you can prepare an acid syrup with which you can gargle in case of mouth lesions and throat inflammations. The same gargling can also be done with the infusion. In the case of canker sores and pharyngitis, the recommended amount for gargle is 40 grams of mulberry syrup. The syrup would also have astringent properties. The pulp of the fruit is used to obtain soothing masks to be applied in case of dry skin and to prepare liqueurs. Mulberry blackberry liqueur is prepared by mixing the pulp with alcohol and sugar. The potted mixture is exposed to the sun for 4 days, shaking it every now and then to dissolve the sugar. Then the jar is placed in the dark, in a dry place, for 40 days. Before consuming the liqueur it is advisable to let it age for a couple of months. The dose to prepare the liqueur is 600 grams of mulberry blackberries, 300 grams of sugar and half a liter of alcohol. From mulberry blackberries the juice is also obtained which is used in cosmetics, to produce moisturizing lotions. In the food industry, mulberry blackberries are used as flavorings and dyes for ice creams that take on a color between blue and purple.
Mulberry syrup can be found in pharmacies, herbalists and parapharmacies, where it is also possible to buy filters to prepare infusions and herbal teas. Enthusiasts can also collect parts of the mulberry themselves to prepare home remedies. For medicinal purposes the leaves are harvested in May and June, although it is always better to be cautious and consult a doctor before taking do-it-yourself remedies that could prove harmful. The costs of filters for infusions and herbal teas remain quite low. Mulberry syrup, on the other hand, costs around 10 euros.