Native to East Asia and commonly called paper mulberry or wauke, Polynesian colonists brought this plant in their canoes. There are reports of weediness from several areas, including North America, India, Pakistan, Thailand, and other Pacific Islands. In these places, seeds are dispersed by birds as well as vegetative spreading.
Hawai’i has a seedless variety. To date, no fruits and seeds have been observed. However, paper mulberry persists long after cultivation, especially near waterways.
Wauke is a fast-growing pioneer tree that reaches heights up to 15 feet tall. The leaves are highly variable in shape and size, even those sharing the same branch. It makes a poor ornamental plant as its form is not visually pleasing. The many root suckers don’t leave much room for other desirable species. They are also difficult to dig out. Each root can grow a new tree.
Propagation is by root sucker. It requires ample water for proper growth.
Wauke makes the best kapa cloth. However, maintenance is essential as branched trees make poor kapa.
- Cultural significance
- Privacy / screening
- No dangers