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Paper Mulberry fruits – are they edible?

May 16, 2010

Right now we can admire the gorgeous orange balls of the Paper Mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera, Moraceae). When you look closer at an orange ball, you will see it is composed of many orange cylindrical fruits that emanate from the yellow flower head. Each fruit has a dark red seed at the top. A Japanese fruit expert who is here right now, obviously asked if they are edible. Indeed they are, quite sweet, but without any aroma, and the seeds are crunchy like passion fruit seeds, although much smaller. There is also an unpleasant aftertaste that lasts way too long. My conclusion from our one tree, is that its fruits are more of ornamental and bird-attracting value, than a treat at the dining  table. 

The Paper Mulberry is a member of the fig family, and has the typical white latex. Leaves of young shoots look like the leaves of the grapevine, but the leaves of older branches are unlobed. It is a plant of the wastelands, growing even in the gutter downtown Chiang Mai. It is common all over southern Asia. The bark is a traditional source of fiber for making paper for books and umbrellas. The female flower clusters look like muppets, i.e. green balls with hairy-looking pistils. 

Eric Danell

3 Comments leave one →
  1. vaishali permalink
    February 9, 2012 4:49 PM

    can u give me the data about importance of this plant and it’s habitat?

    • February 9, 2012 10:16 PM

      The economical and cultural importance of the plant is as a fiber source. The ecological importance is it being a pioneer species in arid tropical environments, and providing food for birds. I am sure there are insects specialized on this substrate.

  2. September 24, 2015 9:02 PM


    Thank s for the 2010 posting on information about Broussonetia and its edible fruit. There is not much information on the consumable fruit available. While you have mention its invasive tendency as a pioneer characteristics it is quite invasive in areas and naturalizes many locations such as back lots in Brooklyn NY. I am a Consulting Arborist / Urban Tree Expert and am called upon from time to time by Orthodox Jewish real estate clients whose old testament beliefs prohibits the cutting and removal of edible fruit producing trees. Clearly causing a dilemma when they are informed that the Paper Mulberry tree indeed produces a fruit that is edible. Any more information pertaining to the fruit edible-ness of this wonderful species do let me know.

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