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Broussonetia papyrifera (paper mulberry)

A shrub or tree, with mulberry-like leaves, paper mulberry is important as a source of fibre for cloth and paper.
Leaves and flowers of paper mulberry

Broussonetia papyrifera (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Broussonetia papyrifera (L.) Vent.

Common name: 

paper mulberry, tapa cloth tree

Conservation status: 

Not known to be threatened; it has become an invasive weed in some areas of the USA.

Habitat: 

Mixed deciduous and evergreen woodland, forest margins and secondary vegetation; a pioneer of disturbed sites.

Key Uses: 

Cloth- and paper-making, medicinal, ornamental.

Known hazards: 

The pollen can cause allergic reactions.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Rosanae
Order: 
Rosalaes
Family: 
Moraceae
Genus: Broussonetia

About this species

John Sims, a British taxonomist and editor of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, wrote rather brutally in 1822: ‘The Paper-Mulberry tree is a shrub of but little beauty; but, both in Japan and in the South-Sea islands, is of the utmost importance for economic purposes’. Despite the comment by Sims, Broussonetia papyrifera has been appreciated by plant-lovers, and grown in Asian and European gardens for many years. Peter Collinson, a keen English amateur gardener, raised plants from seed sent from China as early as 1751, and distributed them among his friends. However, paper mulberry had already been cultivated in Asia and the islands of the Pacific Ocean for many centuries before this – primarily as a source of fibre, food and medicine.

Synonym: 

Morus papyrifera

Genus: 
Broussonetia

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