Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bushcraft - Central Texas Style - The Salad Tree

What can you find in a residential area, in a park or growing along the edge of a remote wooded area? It’s a fairly common species of tree that offers a couple of options as a food source and is widespread throughout many parts of Central Texas. Chances are you may even have one growing in your own backyard! The above picture is of a large tree growing in my own backyard.

This widespread and locally available tree is the Texas mulberry (Morus microphylla). The ripe fruit of this tree is edible and the young leaves of the mulberry tree can be cooked and eaten to make a tasty salad of greens. Make sure to discard the water the young leaves were cooked in and consume only the cooked leaves themselves.

Mulberries begin to ripen in the late spring and continue to ripen into the early part of summer. Mulberries can also be used in much the same manner as any other types of berries (jellies, jams, wines, etc.). The ripe fruit falls easily from the tree and makes a big mess underneath that can be seen quite easily.

The Tonkawa tribe also used the inner bark of the mulberry tree to make ropes and a form of coarse cloth. The mulberry tree, which was originally introduced as an ornamental plant in the United States, now grows like a weed in Central Texas.

Mulberries also contain anthocyanins which possess an antioxidant property that can help to improve your visual acuity. There main use is as a food colorant and as an agent in making dyes.

Mulberries can be grown from seed or from cuttings. Trees grown from seedlings are usually healthier and form a better shape for ornamental purposes. Cuttings take root easily and are a widespread method of planting mulberries.

Got mulberries?

Staying above the water line!



simply_complicated said...

what an interesting post, thank you! Mulberries are definitely not a local food for me (I live in zone 2)but it's still interesting to see other wild food options. My personal fave local survival food is Cattails (Typha latifolia) as they can be eaten year round, and their remaining parts (being the fluff and reeds) are both highly useful for survival use (or, if you're the type, using at home!)

thanks again for the good read!

HermitJim said...

Very good info, RW. Thanks!

I had wondered if there was a good use for these trees!

Anonymous said...

No, but we're seriously thinking on adding one to our yard. In Spanish, mulberry is called MORA, and both my wife and I enjoyed eating them at our respective Grandparent's homes when we were young. The fruit was the white / light green variety, not sure which subspecies that is, but they were delicious. The birds agree as well, plenty of competition when fruit was in season.

The only negative I remember was that insects would weave some type of web at certain times of the year, giving it the appearance of light Spanish Moss.

Thanks Riverwalker.

riverwalker said...

To: simply complicated

We've got cattails also but the mulberry trees are pretty common in most areas...including my backyard. There are a lot more resources out there than most people realize.



riverwalker said...

To: HermitJim

You've probably got more than your share of mulberry trees in your area. They grow like weeds around my yard and I've got a huge one that even makes some decent shade from the Central Texas heat.

Thanks Jim.


riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 12:02

The ones I usually see in my area are the red mulberries but there are a few of the white mulberries around also...just not as prolific.

The tree in my backyard has a few webs but aren't too bad...but the fruit is all but gone now.

Ate too many as a kid myself...

Thanks anon.


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