Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Paper mulberry, pulp mulberry, Tapa cloth tree.

+ Tree Species

Broussonetia papyrifera

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Broussonetia papyrifera is native to Asia where its range includes China, Japan, Indochina, Burma Korea, and India. It is widely cultivated elsewhere and it grows as an introduced species in parts of Europe, the United States, and Africa. The tree is widely cultivated in temperate to tropical areas of eastern Asia for the fiber in its bark. It prefers a sub-humid warm, sub-tropical monsoon climate in moist forests and its remarkable for the variety of climates in which it can be grown, being hardy enough to survive. However, its growth in cool climates is not as vigorous as in a warm, moist climate. It is found growing in tropical climates at elevations from sea level to about 2,000 meters, but its range also extends well into the temperate zone where mature plants can withstand temperatures down to about -10 c. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 28 c, but can tolerate 500 - 3,000 c. It is sensitive to root competition and cannot grow on poor sites with heavy weed and grass growth. It is a pioneer species that easily fills forest clearings, and it has been considered for reforestation efforts, and it grows well in many climate types. In Kampala, Broussonetia papyrifera is found along Lugogo by pass, Impala avenue, Owen road, within National housing and Medical quarters among other places.

+ Description

Broussonetia papyrifera is a deciduous shrub or small tree with a broad, spreading crown; it usually grows up to 9 meters tall, though in a suitable climate can reach 20 meters or more. The cylindrical bole can be 50 - 70cm in diameter. The spreading, grey-brown branches, marked with stipular scars are brittle, making it susceptible to wind damage. The stem, branches and petioles contain milky latex. Some leaves are distinctly deep lobed, while others are un-lobed and several different shapes of leaves may appear on the same shoot.

BARK: light grey-brown, smooth, with shallow fissures or ridges. Young branchlets are subtomentose and shoots are pubescent when young.

LEAVES: alternate or sub-opposite,ovate, acuminate, dentate-crenate, their bases often oblique, scabrous above, with a woolly surface on the lower side, mulberry-like and papery. Smaller leaves tend to be simpler, ovate in shape with pointed tips and serrate margins. Larger leaves tend to be cordate (heart) or mitten shaped, some deeply lobed, with three large or sometimes two smaller lobes near the base of the leaf, soft, pubescent hairs are found on the underside of leaves. Petioles are 3-10 cm long while stipules are 1.6-2.0 cm long.

FLOWERS: male flower 3.5-7.5 cm long, yellowish-white, with pendulous catkin-like spikes; perianth is campanulate, hairy, 4-fid, and its segments are valvate. Female flowers in rounded clusters, globose pedunculate heads about 1.3 cm in diameter; persistent, hairy, clavate bracts subtend flowers.

FRUIT: shiny-reddish, fleshy, globose and compound with the achenes 1-2 cm long and wide hanging on long fleshy stalks. Each individual protruding fruit in the cluster is a drupe.

+ Uses

A fibre from the bark is used to make strong and high quality paper, cloth, rope etc.

The plant can be used as a pesticide. The xylem contains an antifungal substance active against Fusariun species. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Broussonetia+papyrifera

The tree produces a natural green to yellow-green dye.

An ornamental tree.

An oil from the seeds is used in soap and lacquer oil production.

Wood is useful for making furniture, packing cases and utensils, and the roots can be used as rope.

Medicine: leaves, bark, twigs, the resinous sap found in the bark, fruit, and the roots. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Broussonetia+papyrifera

Agroforestry: provides fodder for animal consumption, can be used as a pioneer species when restoring native woodlands, makes a good shelterbelt and windbreak, a mulch of the chopped leaves improves soil moisture and phosphorus content, leading to increased crop production). 

+ Propagation

Seed, stem and root cuttings, layering, coppice and root suckers.

+ Management

Paper mulberry is a hardy, fast-growing tree and is frequently planted as a shade tree. Trees are coppiced on a regular basis in order to provide young, long, clean shoots from which to strip the bark. The tree is widely coppiced for tapa and paper production, with the young trees cut every 12 18 months. If felled and uprooted it can maintain its presence by means of numerous suckers which grow from any portions of root left in the ground.

+ Remarks

Paper mulberry tolerates air pollution, making it suitable for planting along roadsides and in urban settings. Paper mulberry is an invader of open habitats such as forest and field edges. The plant establishes itself quickly on denuded and degraded sites in the form of a thick tree cover, fixing soils and preventing further erosion due to its dichotomous root system. This tree is considered to be one of the worst weeds in Pakistan, one of the most significant invasive plants on the Pampas in Argentina, and a dominant invasive in the forests of Uganda. Research done in Mabira and Budongo forests in Uganda has been shown that when the forest is not heavily degraded and has enough natural forest tree species in the seed bank, the best way to control B. papyrifera is either to leave the forest undisturbed or add more seedlings of emergent tree seedlings/ saplings in carefully opened small gaps to encourage the closing up of the forest thereby eliminating B. papyriferaas because it can hardly regenerate in a shade. Around Sonso in Budongo forest, B. papyrifera has been controlled by the closing up forest, leaving it only along the road where it is open. In control of B. papyrifera clearing of the forest should be avoided as this encourages its aggressive regeneration.

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