What's a Mulberry?

Getting to Know the Mulberry

Most of us know the children's nursery rhyme -- all around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel, the monkey thought 'twas all fun... POP goes the weasel. But what exactly is a mulberry bush and what is a mulberry? Believe it or not, a mulberry isn't a fictional fruit -- it truly does exist. If you aren't familiar with mulberry plants, we're about to enlighten you.

Meet the Mulberry

There are actually about 10 different trees that make up the family of the mulberry, most of them being located in subtropic areas. The two true mulberries that grow in North America are the Texas mulberry and the red mulberry.

Take the Good with the Bad

Mulberry plants aren't for everyone -- especially people who don't like messy trees. Some varieties of mulberry trees can reach 70 feet in hight, but domestic trees can be kept between 8 and 10 feet tall when managed properly. The berries are about 2 to 3 centimeters in length. When dozens of those berries hit your driveway or sidewalk, it's going to be hard to keep them from being tracked into your home.

That being said, however, it's important to note that the mulberry is a delightful little treat. When ripe, the mulberry offers a bit of sweetness to your palate. However, not all mulberries are the same. Some varieties are sweeter than others, while some have a somewhat tart taste. I personally prefer the sweeter mulberries.

Where to Use Your Mulberries

Mulberries are very popular ingredients in tarts, pies, cordials and wines. I've personally had mulberries with syrup over grilled angel food cake and it was absolutely delightful -- one of the best desserts I'd had in a long time.

Watch What You Buy

If you do decide to buy mulberry plants, make sure you get the fruit-bearing variety. Some mulberry plants have been engineered to not produce fruit. These plants are for those who like the look of the mulberry trees, but don't want the mess of the fruit. Since you're probably a berry lover, you want to avoid buying a mulberry plant that doesn't produce any berries.

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