Classification, origin and diffusion
Tree native to East Asia, from China to Burma. Introduced in Europe as an ornamental essence around the mid-eighteenth century, it quickly escaped from gardens and parks thanks to its frugal and pioneering character. It is easily found along the edges of roads and railway tracks and in the uncultivated along the piazzas.
Paper mulberry - Broussonetia papyrifera (L.) Vent. (photo Nikolai Friesen Universität Osnabrück)
Paper mulberry - Broussonetia papyrifera (L.) Vent. (photo www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de)
Size and bearing
In the area of origin it can reach 15 meters in height, with foliage very expanded horizontally.
Trunk and bark
It has a slender and straight trunk, with brown-gray and smooth rind when young, then cracked, which allows to glimpse the young cork underneath brown-violet.
Alternate petiolate leaves, 4-8x7-12 cm, ovate lanceolate, indented on the margin, intense green above, greyish and tomentose below. Those at the base of the branches are whole, the distal ones have 3-5 deep lobes separated by an inlet.
Dioecious plant: male trees produce small yellowish flowers grouped in axillary spikes; the female ones form small spherical and compact flower heads of greenish flowers reduced to just the pistil. The fruit is a spherical soroso (like mulberry), 2 cm in diameter, reddish-orange in color when ripe.
In the Far East, the peel is used which, macerated, provides a fairly good quality paper.