The Godly Hermit Tree - Mulberry
|Jack fruit tree and Mulberry tree belong to the same plant family|
Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
- Nursery Rhyme
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
- Nursery Rhyme
In earlier posts it was mentioned that the almond tree is a heavenly tree and the Drumstick tree is one that is beautiful and easy to grow. However, whereas the first is a delicate tree requiring much care to grow, the second is a fragile tree that does not grow well in colder parts of the earth. The mulberry tree on the other hand grows widely on our planet in most climatic conditions where humans live. It grows easily in wild areas and it is a source of food besides much more. If a tree is to be regarded as a godly hermit tree on our planet than this tree is a strong contender for the title. Mulberry trees can be planted easily from seed or cutting and with its deep green foliage, it is a beautiful tree that offers much shade in summers. This tree and others of its family are an excellent source of food and good health not just for silk worms but also for birds, cattle and humans. Its delicate fruit does not store well but must be picked and eaten right away by a passing hermit.
Morus alba, known as white mulberry, is a short-lived, fast-growing, small to medium sized mulberry tree, which grows to 10–20 m tall. The species appears to be native to northern China but is widely cultivated and naturalized elsewhere since ancient times. It is known as Tuta in Sanskrit and Shatut in Hindi (The royal fruit). White mulberry is widely cultivated to feed silkworms employed in commercial production of silk. It is also notable for rapid release of its pollen, which is launched at over half the speed of sound as a gift from mother earth to the planet so that its off springs may be well fed.. Humans on the other hand have been busy destroying the goodness of the planet and each other and therefore it is not surprising that many are malnourished. White mulberry leaves are the preferred feedstock for silkworms, and are also cut for food for livestock (cattle, goats, etc.) in areas where dry seasons restrict the availability of ground vegetation. The fruit are also dried or made into wine.
Besides fruit, the leaves of this tree are edible but as yet have not been exploited for this purpose much except in Israel, Turkey and Syria. Whenever considering any tree leaf as food, it is best to go for the new tender leaves while leaving the older ones for the tree's own needs. Dried leaves of the tree, especially white mulberry, make an excellent tea. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of the Difficulties, a book devoted to Chinese Medical Practice is a bible for herbal medicine. It records the plant’s first use. It refers to the dry Mulberry leaf tea, “Sang ye cha” or godly hermits’ tea, as a miracle remedy - an immortality medicine. It was used as a cure for coughs, nutritional fortification and paralysis etc. The Chinese character for Mulberry Tree “tree for the silk worm” is identical in Japanese.
Mulberry leaves have long been used in Chinese medicine for the prevention and treatment of diabetes. They contain compounds that suppress high blood sugar levels. Scientists in Japan have pinpointed a number of biologically active compounds in extracts of the leaves of the white mulberry. The extract appears to be effective in suppressing progression of arteriosclerosis and buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in our arteries. It appears that the leaves contain six times more calcium than green tea, 25 times more than milk and 40 times more than cabbage. It seems that it contains 2.5 times more iron than than green tea and 10 times more than spinach. One may mix some standard tea leaves with mulberry leaves to improve taste and benefits. Because of the high source of mineral content Mulberry leaves are a candidate to become a super food material pending further studies.
Some trees of the family moraceae to which the mulberry tree belongs such as the Jack fruit and breadfruit trees grow only in the tropics and are a much desired food source. The mulberry tree on the other hand grows well in areas with either severe summers and/or severe winters.
Breadfruit is native to Polynesia where it is baked, boiled or fried as a potato-like vegetable. It is made into bread, pie and puddings. Jack fruit trees bear massive fruits. This tree is grown throughout the tropics as well as cooler regions for its delicious, pulpy, edible fruit. The fruits may reach nearly three feet in length and weigh up to 34 kg, thus making them the largest of tree-bearing fruits on earth. The tree bears abundant fruit in summers. It is worth planting on any farm or large home garden in places where the winter or summer is not too severe. Even a small tropical farm of few acres that has a couple of Jack fruit trees, a couple of drumstick trees, a couple of mulberry trees, two cows and a field to grow more fruits, a vegetable patch for onions, spinach and potatoes etc. can meet the nutritional requirements of an average sized family. It is best to leave food grains like wheat for large mechanized farms who can do it more cheaply. A couple of cassia trees will provide all the fuel needed for the family and another couple each of mango (apple in cold areas) and lime or lemon will improve variety and nutrition. Trees planted near the boundary of farm lands do not take up much space but add beauty and security to the land. Just care is needed to avoid the south side to prevent winter shading of land if the land holding is a small one. North is the best if a neighbor does not have a farm on that side, otherwise a western boundary is a good choice for the largest of trees such as cassia and east for the smaller ones. With four to six cows there would also be enough surplus income to meet the clothing and educational needs of the family as well. The cow droppings and leaf collections will be enough to organically fertilize the farm, provided they are given enough time to decompose fully (a minimum of a year). The more adventurous may try adding a fish pond and free range hens for their delicious eggs. A pond could be created on that sided shaded by mulberry trees to minimize evaporation loss and whatever falls into the pond shall feed the fish.
In my hometown, the mulberry tree comes up easily on its own on any moist ground. A beautiful one grows near the front gate presently. Two others became too large for my small urban garden and unfortunately had to be removed in the past. I made good use of the wood and planted more trees to replace them. The wood of the tree is excellent for furniture and I have used it for some tables and beds in my home. The wood is strong with a beautiful grain and color that takes a fine finish when dry. If you have been thinking of planting a tree in your neighborhood or a wild clearing nearby then consider this tree as an easy and useful one to plant. It will add joy to the life of birds, bees, insects and humans. At the present stage in the history of our planet marked by depleting forests, expanding urban spaces and adverse climate changes every tree helps. The mulberry tree is not considered appropriate for urban streets since the fruit stains pavements. It is more a tree for gardens, forests and farms i.e a hermit tree.However, if the street sides are unpaved, then it may be planted by the side of urban streets too.
“A man, who will finish his luncheon with black mulberries will pass his summers in health.” — Horace, Satires, 35 B.C.
|Top of a Mulberry Tree|
The beautiful Jackfruit tree photo is an image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jackfruits.JPG
and the Mulberry top from http://publicdomainpictures.net
UPDATE: August 7, 2013: A forest of white mulberry, moringa trees (http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2013/08/tree-of-life-moringa-or-drumstick.html) along with other food producing trees e.g food palms, banana, apples, mangos, breadfruit, jackfruit, chestnuts, almonds, walnuts etc. the selection depending onng on climate and locale virtually produces a bio-diverse food forest to provide food for any small human community surrounded by such a forest - even more so if there is an an undergrowth of herbs and wild lettuce, dandeloin, goosefoot and mushooms etc. with streams and ponds seeded with fish and to provide moisture for the forest to become lush green). The same growth on a small scale is also suitable to meet the needs of a family with a small farm especially along with a few free range cows.
UPDATE: April 20, 2014: Read about the significant role of trees in climate change as per the latest information here http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2014/04/a-new-perspective-on-climate-change.html