Mulberry tree is known by many common names such as Tut, Shahtoot, Silkworm mulberry, Chi sang etc. This tree is mainly known for rearing of silkworms. The process of making silk from silkworms started in China. China is the largest producer of silk followed by India.
Silk production process starts with eggs of Silk moth. From these eggs, larvae emerge which are voracious eater of mulberry leaves. The larvae spun a silky protective case from their gland. Within 5-8 days the larvae is completely covered in silk casing. This is cocoon stage. This is the stage to get silk from silkworm. Beyond cocoon stage, the larva changes into moth. The processing of silk involves boiling of alive cocoon in water for few minutes. The silkworms are killed and separated. Then silk strands are unwound from the cocoon. A single cocoon can give about 350-370 mm of silk filament. Many filaments are combined to make white raw silk thread which is processed further.
Mulberry is also an edible medicinal tree. Its fruits are tasty and nutritive. They are enjoyed fresh, dried, as juice, jams, jellies and as an ingredient in many recipes. The leaves are also edible and have anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and antipyretic properties.
- KINGDOM: Plantae – Plants
- SUBKINGDOM: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- SUPERDIVISION: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- DIVISION: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- CLASS: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- SUBCLASS: Hamamelididae
- ORDER: Urticales
- FAMILY: Moraceae – Mulberry family
- GENUS: Morus L. – mulberry
SPECIES: Genus Morus consists of about 24 species and more than hundred known varieties. The most common species are Morus alba (white mulberry), Morus rubra (Red mulberry) and Morus nigra (Black mulberry).
ENGLISH: Mulberry;HINDI: Tut;UNANI: Shahtut, Tut;OTHER COMMON NAMES: Chinese white mulberry, common mulberry, Russian mulberry, silkworm mulberry, chi sang, chin sang, moral blanco.
About The Species
Mulberry tree is native to warm temperate and subtropical regions. It is found in Asia, Africa, Europe and America. Morus alba is native of India, China and Japan. Morus rubra is native to eastern North America. Morus nigra is native to Southern Russia.
The leaves of white and red Mulberry differ slightly. Red mulberry leaves are dull green, rough on top, hairy from beneath and are usually larger (4-10 inches) than white mulberry (3-4 inches). The leaf margin of M.rubra leaf is finely serrate compared to those of M.alba. The leaves of white Mulberry are bright green, shiny, less hairy and with prominent main vein underneath.
Unripe Mulberries are white to pale yellow in colour. On ripening, they turn red, dark purple and then black depending on species. The fruits of Red mulberry are nearly black when ripe but white mulberry fruits can be white, red, or deep purple. Fruits of White Mulberry/Morus alba are very sweet in taste with low acidity. Red Mulberry/M. rubra fruits are purple in colour, less sweet, less juicy, high in dry matter and low in acidity. Black Mulberry/M. nigra fruits are very juicy and have refreshing acidic flavour.
Nowadays many studies are performed on traditional herbs for finding their therapeutic potential. Scientific study of mulberry tree shows its bark is hypoglycaemic, leaves are anti-inflammatory, emollient, expectorant, diaphoretic, and fruits are cooling and laxative in action.
The leaves contain flavonoids, anthocyanins, artocarpin, cycloartocarpin and analogues. The hot water extract (tea) of leaves showed lipid and cholesterol lowering effect in rabbits. Reduction in liver enlargement and fat deposition in liver was also observed.
The leaves paste found to be active against Gram- Positive bacteria and yeast.
Health Benefits of Mulberry fruits
Mulberry fruits are sweet-sour, juicy and nutritive. Fresh mulberries are available during spring and summer but you may enjoy dry mulberry throughout the year. Though drying process causes loss of many vitamins such as vitamin C and E.
Mulberries are good for digestive system, eyes, blood and immunity. Fresh mulberries are full of majority of vitamins (carotene, vitamin A, C, K and E). They are also high in Potassium and magnesium. Mulberries are rich source of flavonoids. Flavonoids are basically large group of water-soluble plant pigments with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. These are helpful in maintaining the health of small blood vessels and connective tissue. Mulberries contain flavonoids quercetin-3-glucoside, rutin, morin and isoquercetin.
Mulberries improve immunity and metabolism, detoxify liver and kidney, and calms the nerves.
These small fruits are tonic for blood. Mulberry fruit juice on regular intake, is beneficial in anaemia, sleeplessness, dizziness, and heart palpitation.
Mulberries have laxative effect and are helpful in constipation cure. The fruits are eaten empty stomach with glass of water for treating the same.
Mulberry fruits eating improves haemoglobin level and cleanses blood.
Mulberries are tonic, laxative, sedative, warming, and expectorant in action. They are good for heart, liver, digestive system and protect body from diseases due to presence of flavonoids and anthocyanin.
Mulberry fruit juice is rich in anthocyanins, minerals (iron and magnesium) and vitamins. It has anti-viral, anti-oxidant properties and scavenges free radicals. The juice also exhibits anti-stress effect and protects body from the damages that occur due to stress (stress causes formation of free radicals which attack any organic molecule, cells, generating compounds, called reactive oxygen metabolites, including hydroperoxides). Mulberry juice inhibits hydroperoxide formation through the free radicalaaq2zxa scavenging activity of the juice.
Mulberry tree medicinal uses
Mulberry tree is a medicinal plant. It is used therapeutically in many countries such as India, Japan, China etc. Generally for medicinal purpose White Mulberry/Morus alba is used. In India, Decoction of tree bark is given for lowering blood sugar and leaf decoction is used as diuretic/ stimulates production of urine.
In traditional Chinese medicine, various parts of Mulberry tree are used from time immemorial. The tree is known as Sang in Chinese and the fruit (sang shen), leaves (sang yè), and the root bark (sang bai pi) are used medicinally. The leaves are considered cooling and used to get relief from symptoms of lung heat like cough, fever and sore throat. Tree (Morus alba) leaves are used for bronchitis, cold and cough.
Mulberry leaf Herbal tea
Mulberry leaves can be used fresh or dried. The decoction (of 3-10 g leaves) is useful in maintaining good vision. Tea prepared from Mulberry leaves in combination with other herbs is beneficial in variety of diseases. A herbal tea of Mulberry leaves and chrysanthemum flowers gives relief in symptoms of fever, sore throat and dry eyes. This tea is folk remedy for conjunctive congestion with dryness, excessive tears and pain in body. It is prepared by steeping few leaves of Mulberry, some dried flowers of chrysanthemum and rock salt in boiling water (about one cup) for three minutes. This is filtered and taken orally.
Another recipe of Mulberry Herbal tea is to take 16-18 pieces of Mulberry leaves, few curry leaves, one stalk of lemon grass and three pieces of Pandan leaves in a pot and boil for few minutes. This is strained and taken orally. The herbal tea also reduces blood sugar. Eating leaves of Mulberry with black salt is also helpful in diabetes.
Mulberry leaves possess wound healing properties. The home remedy for wounds is to prepare a paste of leaves and apply topically.
Toothache, throat congestion
The leaves are also used for toothaches and throat congestion. For this purpose the juice of leaves is used as gargle.
Effective Against Diabetes
Mulberry leaves are anti-diabetic and many studies affirms this fact. The alkaloid component of leaves 1-deoxynojirimycin (found highest in soft leaves) is one of the most potent alpha-glucosidase inhibitor. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are oral anti-diabetic agents used for diabetes mellitus type 2 and work by preventing the digestion of carbohydrates. Therefore as a natural remedy herbal infusion of leaves can be taken. This can be prepared by soaking 1-3 grams of mulberry leaves in hundred ml boiling water for 5 minutes. On oral intake this herbal tea will exhibit inhibitory activity against sucrase, maltase and alpha-glucosidases enzymes.
There are number of biologically active compounds in extracts of the white mulberry leaves which are effective in suppressing the progression of atherosclerosis (disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of fatty material on their inner walls) and the build-up of cholesterol-rich plaque in our arteries. The leaves extracts have properties that inhibit the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol or the bad cholesterol. Oxidized LDL is harmful as it contains free radicals. These free radicals can react with tissues and produce damage to them.
In India, a nutritional scientists group suggested that the white mulberry leaves can be a good food due to richness in protein content with good amino acid profile, high digestibility, high mineral content, low fibre content and good taste. These scientists also propose that a 1:4 mixture of mulberry-leaf powder and wheat flour would be suitable for making paratha for a nutritious diet. It is also believed regular consumption of mulberry leaves can stimulate the nervous system and help in maintaining proper functioning of the digestive tract.
Mulberry is a non-toxic, edible tree. You can eat its fruits as well as leaves without any side-effects. In Thailand, Mulberry leaves are consumed in many ways. Herbal tea prepared from the leaves is also very popular in China and Thailand.
Recommended dosage of various parts of Mulberry tree
Root bark: 6–12 g; Leaf: 3–12 g; Fruits: 9–15 g; fruit syrup: 2–4 ml.