Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Paper Mulberry
Broussonetia papyrifera

A fibre from the bark is used in making paper, cloth, rope etc[46, 61, 114, 171]. The fibre can be produced by beating strips of bark on a flat surface with a wooden mallet. A very fine cloth can be made in this way, the more the bark is beaten the finer the cloth becomes. Larger sizes can be made by overlapping 2 pieces of bark and beating them together. A leather substitute can also be made from the bark[171]. When used for making paper branches are harvested after the leaves have fallen in the autumn, they are steamed and the fibres stripped off. In humid areas this can be done without steaming the branches. The inner and outer bark are then separated by scraping (or simply peeling in humid areas) and the fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye before being hand pounded with mallets. The paper varies in colour if the outer and inner barks are used together or separately[189].

Wood – coarse grained, soft, easily worked, light, not very durable. Used for cups, bowls etc[149, 158, 178, 229].

  • Medicinal Use

    Astringent, diuretic, tonic, vulnerary[178].

    The leaf juice is diaphoretic and laxative – it is also used in the treatment of dysentery[218]. It is also poulticed onto various skin disorders, bites etc[218].

    The stem bark is haemostatic[218].

    The fruit is diuretic, ophthalmic, stimulant, stomachic and tonic[218].

    The root is cooked with other foods as a galactogogue[218].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw[2, 105, 177, 179]. The fruit comprises a ball about 1.5cm in diameter with numerous small edible fruits protruding – there is not much edible flesh but it has a lovely flavour[K]. Prolonged ingestion is said to weaken the bones[179].

    Leaves – cooked[105]. The dried leaf contains 1% calcium carbonate[179] (this report does not mention edibility).

    Flowers[179]. No more details.

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – no pre-treatment is required. Sown in the autumn or spring in a greenhouse, germination usually takes place within 1 – 3 months at 15¡c[138]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 8 – 12cm long with a heel, July/August in a frame. High percentage[11, 78]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, November in a frame[200]. Root cuttings in winter[200]. Layering in spring[200].
Easily cultivated in a warm sunny position in any soil of reasonable quality[11]. A drought resistant species once established[149], thriving on poor sandy or gravelly soils[200, 229]. Another report says that it does not thrive on poor soils[146]. Tolerates atmospheric pollution[200]. A fast-growing tree according to one report[227], but whilst it might be fast in relation to other members of the genus, it is only of moderate growth compared to some species[K]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to about -10¡c[200]. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K]. There is a superb specimen of this tree at Cambridge Botanical gardens, in the late summer of 1996 it was about 12 metres tall and 16 metres wide and was bearing a huge crop of immature fruit[K]. The leaves on the same tree can vary widely in shape and size[K]. The paper mulberry is widely cultivated in E. Asia for the fibre in its bark, there are many named varieties[11, 200]. Trees are coppiced annually for this purpose[4], though the coppice interval in countries such as Britain would probably be 2 – 3 years. This is a very adaptable tree, it is found growing in tropical climates but its range also extends well into the temperate zone. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
E. Asia – China. Occasionally naturalized in S.E. Europe[50].

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.