Common name: White mulberry
Local Name: _ Chimmu (चिम्मू), toot (तूत).
In India as well as in China, the most important use of mulberry trees is the leaves, which are fed to silkworms.
According to botanists, chimmu is a native of China. In fact, mulberry, which in common language covers all types of mulberry trees, has many forms growing all over India. But, probably for convenience sake, all have been categorised under two names, white or back. The trees bearing white fruits are called white mulberry and those bearing black fruits, are called black muberry or Morus nigra. Both types bear edible fruits of varying size and varying quality. Some of the fruits, especially borne by white fruited types are so tasty that these are considered as a delicacy.
There are several forms of mulberry classified under one botanical name, Morus alba, each varying in morphological characters, fruit quality as well as in their climatic requirement. So the Morus alba trees growing in mid hills of Himalayas, which is locally known as chimmu or toot also have their own identity.
Though the major use of toot trees is leaf for silkworms and edible fruits, but tender leaves of toot are also cooked as a vegetable in villages.
A middle sized monoecious tree with fairly cylindrical bole, upto 3 m high, and 1.8 m in girth; bark dark greyish brown with vertical fissures.
Leaves acute, often cordate, 5 – 8 cm, stalk 1.2 to 2.5 cm.
Flowers inconspicuous, greenish; male catkins lax flowered, broadly cylindrical or ovoid; female catkins ovoid, pedunculate.
Fruit a syncarp, consisting of many drupes enclosed in fleshy perianth, ovoid or sub-globose, upto 5.0 cm long, white or pinkish white, sweet.
Fruits of chimmu are fondly eaten by all and these are very tasty. Fruits are used in dessert,puddings,smoothie etc as a supplement with other fruits, However, many may not be aware that the tender leaves of this plant are also cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Of course, it is not common and in most cases it is done at the time of scarcity. Besides being cooked as a vegetable, pakodas (पकौड़ा) and kachru (कचरू)or bhalle (भल्ले) is also made from them.
The recipe for preparing kachru from chimmu leaves is being given here:
Young leaves chopped, 1kg; besan (black gram flour) or corn flour, 1/2 kg; fresh coriander leaves (chopped),1 cup amount; 1/2 table spoon caraway, 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped medium sized onions and salt according to taste.
Make a paste of chopped leaves, besan or corn flour and spices listed above. Heat some oil on a flat heating pan. Put some paste over a pan, spread it like a chapati and cook from both sides for 15 to 20 minutes and kachru will be ready to serve.
Chimmu fruits desserts:
Chimmu ripe fruits and other chopped fruits acc. to taste,1/2kg; curd, 1kg; sweetener like honey/ sugar/ condensed milk, 1-3 tea spoon; cardamom powder,1/4 tea spoon; black salt according to taste.
Take curd in a bowl. Add to it sweetener according to choice and stir well. Add cardamom powder, black salt, chimmu fruits and other chopped fruits according to preference. Mix well and serve.
The fruit is acrid, sweetish, sour; cooling, laxative; useful in “Vata” and “Kapha”, biliousness, burning sensation. The sweet deep red juice of the white or red form of the fruit is used for sore-throat and act as pleasant refrigerator in case of fever. The fruit is employed by hakims, as remedy for sore throat, dyspepsia and melancholia. The bark is considered purgative and anthelmintic.
Chimmu leaves are fed to silk worms. These are also fed to cattle, especially milch cattle and are said to improve yield of milk. The leaves are rich in minerals and also a good source of vitamin C.
Wood is used for making small items of furniture and farm tools.