Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Broussonetia Papyrifera

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Broussonetia papyrifera buds (18/06/2011, London)

Broussonetia papyrifera buds (18/06/2011, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Well drained soil

Flowering period: Spring

Eventual Height: 9m

Eventual Spread: 9m

Hardiness: USDA Zone 7a-11a

Family: Moraceae

Broussonetia papyriferas is a deciduous tree with a compact, round-headed habit. Its serrate, olive-green leaves can vary from un-lobed to deeply lobed even on the same branch, they are rough above and greyish and pubescent below. The inflorescence is dioecious and the plants themselves are either male or female. The flowers on the male plants are oblong catkins with the females being purple and globose. In summer the female plants will produce a spherical syncarp composed of orange-red drupelets which are edible.

B. papyrifera is commonly known as the Paper Mulberry and is native to much of eastern Asia and has been naturalised in parts of Europe, the Middle East and south-eastern North America where it is considered an invasive plant. In China it was traditionally used for making paper and in Polynesia for making a cloth called tapa.

Broussonetia papyrifera (18/06/2011, London)

Broussonetia papyrifera (18/06/2011, London)

Broussonetia was named for Pierre Marie Auguste Broussonet, an  18th century French naturalist. Papyrifera is derived from the Latin papyrus-a plant which was the main source of paper and fera also Latin, meaning ’wild’.

The landscape architect may find this plant useful as a small ornamental tree which is attractive to birds for its fruit.. Care should be taken when locating this tree as its roots are extremely aggressive when seeking water and may cause problems with drainage pipes. This plant is an invasive species in parts of the US, South Asia and Latin America.

This plant will tolerate almost any soil conditions; it will be happy in neutral, acid or alkaline pH levels, in loam, clay or sand based soils facing any aspect, either sheltered or exposed. It will prefer very well drained soil and is highly tolerant to urban pollution.

Ecologically this plant will attract pollinating insects such as butterflies and honey bees. The sweet fruit will also attract animals. Although as it is not native to this continent these associations will not be prolific.

Maintenance: little to no maintenance required. Dead or damaged material may be removed in winter.

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