Berries are popularly regarded as a very healthy food with good reason. While they do contain fructose, fruit sugar, in high amounts they are also a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemicals which are known to slow down the damage that occurs to muscles in the body over time due to oxidation. Two very popular berries in this regard are elderberry and mulberry. The berries are popular for the same reasons but have quite a few differences between them. But first, let’s define elderberry and mulberry.
Elderberry is the fruit product of a shrub known as Sambucus that occurs naturally in subtropical climatic regions. Sambucus are grown for their leaves, seeds, berries and flowers which all have value. The elderberry is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and Iron. This versatile fruit is also used in wine and liqueur. Elderberries because of their nutritional profile are also widely used in medicine as a flu remedy. The elderberry also has a very interesting history with it being believed to ward off witches and evil spirits and this may be the reason it became popular in the past.
Mulberry is a name that has been attributed to many varieties of trees that produce berry fruits. These include the Chinese mulberry, Indian mulberry, Paper Mulberry, Morus rubra (red mulberry), Morus alba (white mulberry) and Morus mesozygia (black or African mulberry). These are all grouped under the genus Morus. The mulberry fruit is a clustered berry with multiple compartments containing seeds on a single berry. They can come in very long varieties which are 2 to 3 centimetres long. Depending on the variety of mulberry the fruit starts white, green or yellow and darkens as it ripens to pink, red or dark purple.
One of the first comparisons we can make between mulberry and elderberry is the plant which the fruits grow from. The mulberry or morus trees are very large trees that can grow up to 20 metres in height. Sambucus, which elderberries grow from are very small trees or shrubs which can grow up to around 1 metre tall. This makes for two very different source plants. Sambucus grow well in the subtropical regions and historically were popularised in the Mediterranean. Moras trees on the other hand are spread all over the world with many regions having their indigenous versions of mulberry trees. Mulberries are products of trees that can grow very tall while elderberry is fruits of very short trees or shrubs.
The second and perhaps more evident difference to most people is the type of berry that the two plants produce. Elderberries are small, spherical, lone standing berries which are a deep purple. Mulberries on the other hand are what are called a clustered berries. They form clusters of many little berries each little section containing its seed into a longer finger-like berry. This berry can be as long as 2 to 3 centimetres. The berries vary in colour depending on the variety of mulberry tree and can be anything from pink to black. There’s little to no chance of ever confusing the two for each other.
The tastes of the two berries are also quite different and the average person could easily tell the two apart. Mulberries are very sweet berries while elderberry’s taste ranges from bland to tart. Mulberries are well known for their sugary sweetness which makes them very popular with people and animals. Elderberry on the other hand is a tart or tangy berry with very little sweetness or strong flavour. When cooked the mulberries maintain their sweetness. Elderberries tend to come out much sweeter when cooked and are more like blueberries in this regard. Very watery berries that have a little flavour that have a concentration effect on the sugar contained in the fruit when the berry is cooked.
Looking at differences between the two berries we can also consider how the berries have been used over time. Let’s start with the fact that elderberry was believed to have the power to ward off witches and evil spirits. Mulberries do not have such a storied history in that manner. Mulberry trees have applications beyond their fruit, however. The bark was used in papermaking in Asia and the tree was grown as it is the sole source of food for the silkworm. Given the importance of silk to the economy and history of Asia, the trees were very important. Elderberry is not an easy beat by any means as it is also ubiquitous beyond its fruits. The flowers are used for curing a cold and flu. Both mulberries and elderberries are jam-packed with essential nutrients that help the body in many ways.
The nutritional profiles of the two can also be compared. It would require much more time than we have to go through all the different nutrients, vitamins and minerals that these two berries possess. What we can look at are some differences between the berries on a nutritional level. Firstly mulberries have four times as much dietary fibre as elderberry of the same weight. While both berries contain vitamin A, the mulberry has 30 times as much vitamin A as the elderberry. Another difference can be found in the amount of magnesium, another essential mineral, with the mulberry providing more than three times as much as the elderberry. Elderberries are not easily outmatched though as they contain more antioxidants which are essentially anti-ageing nutrition for the body.
Price and Availability
Finally, the price and availability of the two can also be compared. The mulberry has covered much more of the world than the elderberry that is certain. With just about every continent claiming its indigenous mulberry. Elderberry while popular in the subtropics is not as widely available. This impacts on the price and you will normally come across elderberry costing twice as much as mulberry per kilogram.