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Question: What is this tree, is it invasive?

January 15, 2021

Got Nature? BlogQuestion: My husband and I are 64 and have been in woods all our lives. We came across a tree we couldn’t identify and are wondering if you are familiar with it. It kind of looks like a birch with giraffe like markings. We are wondering if it is diseased since it is so unusual.  Please see photos.

Thank you for your Ask an Expert inquiry regarding the identification of this tree and asking if it is invasive. After sharing this with other master arborists we have identified this tree:
Paper Mulberry
Broussonetia papyrifera (L.) L’Her. ex Vent
Mulberry family (Moraceae)
Origin: Japan and Taiwan
Background: Paper mulberry was introduced for use as a fast-growing shade tree. Native Pacific cultures use it to make bark cloth.
Distribution and Habitat: Found from Illinois to Massachusetts, south to Florida and west to Texas, paper mulberry invades open habitats such as forest and field edges. Internationally, it is identified as an invasive weed in over a dozen countries.
Ecological Threat: Once established it grows vigorously, displacing native plants through competition and shading. If left unmanaged, paper mulberry can dominate a site. Its shallow root system makes it susceptible to blowing over during high winds, posing a hazard to people and causing slope erosion and further degradation of an area.

We have several resources to help you as you identify trees and invasives:
Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory, send in a sample or photos to help identify or diagnose trees and plants (cost $11+), Purdue Extension-Botany and Plant Pathology
Tree Doctor, download app that can be used to help identify and learn more regarding tree diseases Purdue Extension-The Education Store
Certified Arbroist, Find an Arborist, International Society of Arboriculture
Invasive Forest Pests in IN, Purdue Extension-Entomology
Indiana Invasive Species Council
Ask an Expert, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources

More Resources:
Red and White Mulberry in Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Depot
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners: EQIP, The Education Store
Invasive Species, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist
FNR Ask An Expert: Invasive Plant Species, Video
ID That Tree, Playlist
What are invasive species and why should I care?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Report Invasive

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

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