paper mulberry
Broussonetia papyrifera (L.) L’Hér. ex Vent.
  • LEAVES: deciduous, alternate, opposite, or whorled (all three conditions can occur on the same plant), simple; three shapes can be represented – ovate, mitten-shaped, and 3-5 lobed; leaves thick, scabrous above and velvety pubescent below, light grayish green
  • FLOWER: unisexual, plants dioecious; male flowers in cylindric catkins arising from or near axils of current and previous season’s growth; as staminate flowers open, stamens straighten out with force causing anthers to rupture, emitting large quantities of pollen, thus trees appear to be “smoking”; female flowers in short-stalked ball-like globose heads; pollination by wind
  • FRUIT: red or orange achene protruding from calyces; mature fruiting heads, which are ca. 1” broad, are thus conspicuous at a distance; fruit maturing in July to August, having a fig-like taste
  • TWIGS: twigs of the season with long spreading transparent-glassy pubescence; woody twigs brown, with scattered circular slightly raised lenticels; terminal buds wanting; leaf scars elevated, nearly circular; sap milky
  • BARK: bark of younger woody stems smooth, grayish brown with striking dark red horizontal streaks (somewhat zebra-like); bark of older trees grayish brown, smooth to shallowly vertically furrowed and ridged
  • FORM: small fast-growing tree, thicket forming, often flowering and fruiting when of shrub stature
  • HABITAT: abundant in urban and suburban waste areas, along railroad tracks, roadsides
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Upland (FACU): Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: native to Asia; naturalizing throughout the southeast US [Global Distribution Map] [US County Range Map]
  • USES: cultivated in southeast Asia for very high quality paper, kodzo paper, made from the bark
  • WILDLIFE: many birds eat fruits
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. small thicket forming weedy tree of disturbed areas usually near human civilization
    2. leaves of all arrangements and multiple shapes can be present on the same plant
    3. blades thick, scabrous above and velvety below
    4. sap milky
    5. fruiting heads conspicuous when mature, with many red-orange gummy achenes protruding