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  #1  
Old 11 February 2012, 08:37 PM
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Icon81 Don't eat mulberries

Comment: This item isn't actually new, but quite old and one a friend of
mine experienced as a child, too. The subject is "mulberries." We both had
trees bearing bountiful harvests of the wonderful looking berries near
where we were raised, but we both remember vividly being warned by our
parents not to eat them because they had worms in them. I now live and
work in South Korea and have eaten fresh mulberries here many times with
no ill effects (convulses involuntarily - LOL!). I'm a biologist by trade
and have not been able to find what kind of worms could be in the berries,
only that silkworms eat the leaves of the mulberry tree, a fact I learned
in my Entomology course studies. Can you shed any light on this "urban
legend/old wives tale" of potential helminthic peril?
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  #2  
Old 11 February 2012, 08:40 PM
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You can eat most worms with no ill effects, I would think. At least not until you realize you've done it!
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  #3  
Old 11 February 2012, 09:03 PM
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I wonder whether the original propagators of the worms-in-mulberries idea just associated silkworms with mulberries, and therefore thought the berries were wormy; although silkworms eat the leaves, and aren't found in all areas that mulberries grow in.

I'm not an expert on mulberries, but have eaten some, and not found them wormy. (With wild trees, which aren't specific varieties bred for fruit, flavor can vary considerably from tree to tree.) I tried googling for mulberry pests, but found only references to leaf and root pests; as well as several sites saying that mulberry in the USA usually has few pest problems.

It's possible, however, that wherever the original poster grew up, the fruit was wormy. Without knowing where that was, it's hard to find out whether there's a mulberry fruit pest prevalent in that area. But all sorts of fruit may be wormy; lots of people eat raspberries and apples, although both raspberries and apples may have worms in them. You either eat around the worms, or choose particular fruit that don't have any. While I'm not going to say that there's no fruit worm, anywhere, that's bad for you, I've never heard of one that will hurt you even if you do eat some.
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Old 13 February 2012, 04:05 AM
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I was told not to eat mulberries as child -- not because they were wormy, but because the juice stained everything purple. I could easily imagine a parent telling a child they had worms to keep them from eating the berries and ruining their clothes.

For the record, I ate them anyway, despite the purple juice. I just learned to put on old clothes first!
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Old 13 February 2012, 05:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LyndaD View Post
I was told not to eat mulberries as child -- not because they were wormy, but because the juice stained everything purple. I could easily imagine a parent telling a child they had worms to keep them from eating the berries and ruining their clothes.

For the record, I ate them anyway, despite the purple juice. I just learned to put on old clothes first!
I heard the same thing, but specifically that they would stain the inside of our stomachs purple. My sisters always liked the candy that would stain their tongues purple or some other color, so we thought it was cool to stain our stomachs too and ate even more of them.
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Old 15 February 2012, 01:32 PM
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I know mulberries aren't popular with many people because the birds eat the berries and then immediately fly over their parked cars for a little purple pooping. But I had never heard anyone in my circle of friends say they were unhealthy to eat.

When I was a child we would harvest the berries and sell them at our fruit and vegetable stand. They're a fragile fruit, but we generally sold our daily harvest, so they must have been popular.

Today, there is a mulberry shrub in the city park where my friends and I walk our dogs. When the berries are ripe we will casually pick and eat the fruit while our dogs are playing. Some of the dogs even will snack on the fallen fruit.

Sadly, some of the urban children in our neighborhood have never seen anyone eat fruit from a tree, and found the thought of picking and eating fruit not in a box or frozen as "nasty". None of them mentioned the threat of eating worms, though.
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Old 15 February 2012, 02:49 PM
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"Hey, mum! Here's a raspberry without a worm. Is it possible to eat?"
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  #8  
Old 15 February 2012, 03:52 PM
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I never heard anything of the sort. Besides in Spanish the word for "mulberry" is the same as for "blackberry" (mora), so they're regarded as similarly edible. I had a mulberry tree near my block when I was little and we use to eat the berries when we went to pick leaves for the worms.

As I remember, the yumminess scale for moras went like this: blackberries >> black mulberries > white mulberries
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Old 15 February 2012, 04:07 PM
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Silk worms eat a lot of mulberry leaves. My friend raises the worms and has deals with a local park and well as some neighbors to harvest the leaves. Apparently years ago many mulberry stands were planted by a local silkworkers guild. Maybe they started rumors like this to keep kids out of the mulberry bushes.
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Old 24 February 2012, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Induktionator View Post
I heard the same thing, but specifically that they would stain the inside of our stomachs purple.
I recall hearing this remark used for another food when I was younger, and I've never gotten why it would be a valid form of discouragement. The only people who may see the inside of my stomach are surgeons, and why would they care if the inside of my stomach is purple? I could understand if they thought I had a life-threatening condition, but am I supposed to be embarrassed for having a purple-stained stomach? Of course, even when I was younger I understood that the likelihood of my stomach's interior being stained some sort of usual color was slim, which made these sorts of remarks all the more ridiculous to me.
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Old 22 March 2012, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garnet Jello View Post
I recall hearing this remark used for another food when I was younger, and I've never gotten why it would be a valid form of discouragement.
I used to hear this as a child as a warning against drinking red cordial (cool aid) and I also never understood it as a form of discouragement either, and why cordial did it and not a "good" food like beetroots etc. I now understand why they told us this but I think these people greatly under estimated the intelligence of children.

As for not eating mulberries. Our neighbours had a mulberry tree in their back yard and were never discouraged from eating from it not due to worms, not due to staining our clothes

Seriously, who discourages children from eating fruit when they are doing it willingly as usually happens with mulberry trees.
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  #12  
Old 22 March 2012, 09:00 AM
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I believe those are the same berries I used to eat as a kid; a friend of mine had a huge tree of them and we practically lived up there while it was in fruit, picking and eating berries all the while. I made a nice pie out of them one time.

As was said earlier, a lot of fruit can be wormy. It won't make you sick, except psychologically, and it is just a little bit more protein if you don't know about it.
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  #13  
Old 22 March 2012, 12:01 PM
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As mentioned, lots of fruit can be wormy. In my student days, the shared lodgings had a big victoria plum tree in the garden. Because it wasn't treated with any form of pesticide, a lot of the fruits had maggots in. It tended to go like this: The first time you bit into a fruit and saw a maggot (they were still tiny when the fruit was ripe) you recoiled. Then you realised you'd probably already eaten maggots, and maggot poop, in the other fruit (this was a free food bonanza for us students, remember!) and the maggots had lived their entire lives in the fruit and were therefore just "reformatted victoria plum". So we just kept on eating the fruit and ignored any maggots. Besides, we'd all heard about edible witchetty grubs and they're just big maggots so what's the big deal about little maggots?

(That tree had so much fruit we ate it fresh and we learned to make pies, jams and compotes and we still couldn't keep up with the plum harvest!)
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  #14  
Old 25 April 2012, 12:49 PM
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Growing up, we had two mulberry trees in the back yard. We ate from them all the time. We would pick some for dinner and ate handfuls while we picked. We rinsed them off because there would be tiny bugs on them, but we probably ate a fair share of the bugs when we ate them straight from the tree. We never got sick, but we did wind up with stained hands and feet from climbing the tree barefoot.
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  #15  
Old 25 April 2012, 05:50 PM
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Hopefully not too badly OT, but how big were your mulberry trees?
When I was little, the most productive ones were pretty much normal tree sized, like 1' diameter.
One, however, was (and still is) over 10 feet in diameter and the first branches are 3' diameter. Above that it's been cut back again and again and has steel cables in it to keep it from collapsing too often. It kind of looks like the Whomping Willow. It only ever produces sad little white berries that never mature and turn black.
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  #16  
Old 26 April 2012, 01:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Induktionator View Post
It only ever produces sad little white berries that never mature and turn black.
Could it perhaps be a white mulberry?
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  #17  
Old 01 May 2012, 12:15 PM
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Der, I don't recall the measurements, but they weren't quite 3' but not as small as 1'. They were sturdy enough to hold the weight of two children at a time. I actually went to my old house about a week ago. It is currently vacant and available for rent. There were ADT signs up so I didn't feel brave enough to go in the backyard to see if someone had hacked down the trees or not. I could see that they chopped down the lavender bush. :-(
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  #18  
Old 01 May 2012, 05:21 PM
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Yes, I think it was a white mulberry. I found pictures of some similarly large gnarly trees on the web.

L di/dt
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