This is the RED MULBERRY. Over the centuries, the red mulberry has been quite useful for both animals and humans. Native Americans used the tree’s fruit to make drinks, breads, preserves, and cakes. They even mixed dried mulberry fruit with animal fat to make “pemmican.” Pemmican is often described as “the original survival food” and has a consistency similar to beef jerky. If you take a trip to the Appalachia area today, you can find fruits, pies, jams, juice, and wine made from red mulberry fruit. The mulberry fruit is similar in appearance to raspberries and blackberries. The fruit is a rich source of vitamins C, A, E and K and minerals such as potassium, iron, and magnesium. The Poisonous Plants of North Carolina database lists the Red Mulberry and the White Mulberry as mildly toxic if eaten unripe, potentially causing an upset stomach. However, if a person finds himself in a survival situation and needs food, these trees are a good source of nourishment. Mulberry leaves may potentially have health benefits, and mulberry leaf extract is sold in many health foods stores. Some think that mulberry leaf tea can help reduce cholesterol and perhaps reduce inflammation as well as reduce oxidative stress on the body.
The red mulberry is a fast-growing medium sized tree which can reach heights of 50 to 70 feet with a trunk width of up to two feet. The mulberry has bright green oval leaves with irregularly lobed edges. The leaves are arranged alternately on the branches and will change to a bright yellow color in the fall.
The red mulberry is found in areas of North America ranging from northern Ontario and Vermont south to Florida and west to South Dakota and Texas. Interestingly, the red mulberry grows in almost every county in Illinois.