“Hey mom, let’s play picnic,” my daughter said when she saw a beautiful big tree that created shade in the middle of the afternoon during a heat wave in the city. “What a beautiful tree,” I also thought. “Let’s sit for a while…”
Delighting in the imaginative play of a toddler, I looked up to see what kind of tree it was. It was a lovely mulberry tree! I hadn’t seen one since my childhood. We used to smash the fallen berries with our bicycles and there was a ‘black mess’ all over. I did not know that this black mess contained valuable tannins and other stuff hidden inside its heart-shaped leaves…
Morus nigra (black mulberry) is from Caspian Sea, but it was brought to Greece in ancient times. That is the reason for so many reports in the tradition, religion, and culture of Greece. It has been cultivated in Greece for 3,000 years and was considered a ‘wisdom tree’.
Each village had mulberries, mainly in the Northern Greece. It is a big tree that is resistant to the cold, but if you need to produce lots of fruit, there are ideal limits.
The silky-smooth leaves are used as food for silkworms (yes silk is produced from worms!) and Greece until today produces high quality silk, because of the climate and terroir. Traditionally, the leaves where used to make ointments mixed with olive oil that is good for burns. And boiled with vine and fig leaves, it makes black hair dye!
The berries are rich in vitamin C, tannins, anthocyanins, and antioxidants, and they have anticancer and laxative power. Their polyphenols are a ‘superweapon’ for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Also, their consumption seems to reduce obesity, because they hinder lipid creation in cells. These give the berries the ability to help with inflammation in the mouth, relieving toothache, stomatitis, and pharyngitis, and the leaves were boiled to make mouthwash.
Their nutritional value relieves the cold, flu, coughs, asthma, and dizziness. Eating them also seems to help with the diabetes and the leaves also contain antioxidants that help the liver. Small twigs, when boiled, can boost your immune system, and consumed as tea the twigs help joint ailments and swollen legs. They also reduce blood pressure and the leaves also have antipyretic force.
It seems that each part of this tree has a unique power!
That day we played under the tree and felt blessed for its shade, but the true grace and blessing is deep inside of it, from one end, its roots, to the other – way up in its leaves.
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.