14 June 2012

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Remember this nursery rhyme?

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.

Hailing from KL, the urban capital of Malaysia, I have not, until recently, seen a live mulberry bush. And my only knowledge of it is from the nursery rhyme.

And since this is a Western nursery rhyme, I also assumed that the mulberry comes from a 4-season geographic zone. Although at the back of my mind I remember vaguely it being the food of choice for silk worms -the famed little animals that China uses to produce its fabulous silk fabric that adorned emperors and empresses and all royal family members of ancient times, and in today's modern times still commands tremendous adoration. And China can get pretty cold right?

So I was very surprised to learn that the mulberry is actually native to Asia, and it grows very well here in Malaysia! My maid told me that as a child, she and her friends would climb the mulberry tree in her native Indonesia, sit on its branches and snack on the abundant mulberries the tree gives. My gardener also just told me the same thing - when he was a youngling, there were many mulberry trees in the part of Malaysia where he came from and he remembers the bunches of red berries hanging from the tree.

Wow! I am so excited about the mulberry because apparently, it is very easy to grow and fruits constantly. But it is a TREE not a bush! So the nursery rhyme has tricked me (and maybe you) into believing that the mulberry is but a small plant.

Anyway, I obtained my cutting of the mulberry tree from a very kind and generous couple. Their place of business is in a shop near the central market of Ipoh, and just a couple of shops away from the dentist that I took my maid to. Her sharp eyes spied the mulberry bush/ plant growing out of a broken pot in front of the shop. The tree looks aged, not very large but healthy. I spoke to the couple about the mulberry and they smilingly explained that many people have taken an interest in their mulberry tree. I noticed that they had done several grafting efforts on the branches of their mulberry.

The husband promptly inspected his tree and cut off a branch for me. I offered to pay for it, as that is only right. But the couple declined and said to just take it. How generous and kind! But I returned to the shop the next day with a bag of pastries and buns for the couple. Their simple gesture of gifting a branch from their tree to me, a stranger, really touched me.

Now the little mulberry branch has been planted into my garden, and I hope it will grow and thrive. Then my kids can dance around the mulberry bush and sing the rhyme!



  1. When I lived in the US, we had many mulberry trees around. I remember taking the leaves to school when our class did a silkworm project.

    However, those trees were not the fruit-bearing type. There were no fruits at all - ever! Just leaves. Great for climbing, though.

    I hope your mulberry tree will prove to be a fruitful endeavour (pun intended).

  2. Interesting....I also read about non-fruit bearing species. My little plant came from a cutting from a red-berried tree, so hopefully it will do the same as its parent.

  3. You are right that the mulberry tree is getting popular in home gardens nowadays. I see a lot of them in my neighbourhood. The fruiting mulberry trees they are growing indeed look like bushes. They trim the tree regularly to a manageable height. Good luck with you new baby - The Mulberry Tree!

  4. Thanks Autumn Belle for the encouragement and for stopping by.

  5. I think mulberry trees come in a variety of sizes. The ones I have in my friend's house are bushes. But, they bear the same type of berries.

    They are Chinese and they dry the leaves and make like tea. Quite pleasant taste though...

  6. Thanks for the info about using the mulberry leaves to make tea Eranga! I'll try that. My little mulberry has borne fruit - only 1 month after taking up residence in my garden!

  7. Hi!
    My sister has been searching for this tree for her kids and I'm wondering if you have any idea where I can purchase them? :)

    - Jaymee

  8. Hi Jaymee (Peanutxz), sorry for the late reply. Was away on holiday and just didn't have time to update, given the demands of kids, packing, unpacking, flying etc.

    I think you can buy the mulberry plant from most nurseries as they are quite popular now. Where does your sister live?