I’m not sure what a mulberry is. I mean I know it must be a berry, but what else? I don’t recall ever eating one. Are they tasty and full of antioxidants (come to think of it, I’m not quite sure what an antioxidant is)? I seem to think they are a deep reddish purple but where do they grow? They grow on bushes right?:
“here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, here we go round the mulberry bush, so early in the morning”
I decided it was time for a bit of research. It seems there is no such thing as a mulberry bush – it is a tree. Asian in origin, it comes in three varieties, white, red, and black, with the white being the most variable in appearance as well as being considered a “weed” tree in some areas. There also a number of ‘clones’ and related species. The trees vary in longevity from 75 years to hundreds, they sometimes change from one sex to the other, and have different cold tolerances.
The fruit is described as “not a berry, but a collective fruit” and as looking like a swollen loganberry. The fruit comes in a variety of colors ranging from white to an-almost-black red. The fruit doesn’t ripen all at once, instead it ripens over an extended period of time.
Huh. So it would appear the mulberry trees are as befuddled as I am. Wait…what about the nursery rhyme?
It was written by James Orchard Halliwell in the mid nineteenth century. There was an original version with a “bramble bush”, which was changed to mulberry, as well as more verses. The most interesting tidbit of my research:
“Local historian R. S. Duncan has suggested that the song derives from female prisoners at HMP Wakefield. A sprig was taken from Hatfield Hall (Normanton Golf Club) in Stanley, Wakefield, which grew into a fully mature mulberry tree around which prisoners would exercise. There is no corroborative evidence to support this theory.” (from Wikipedia)
I suppose everyone already knew all about mulberries, their trees, and the rhyme, but I didn’t. I had no idea joining the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild on Artfire would turn into such an educational experience.
I think I need to buy some mulberry jam.