Rice-Paper Plant is a shrub, up to 6 m tall, with stems woody but soft, flake-like when young but gradually full when older, and with white pith in the middle. The young branches are densely covered with stellate hairs, or slightly with grayish yellow deciduous fluff. Large leaves, usually clustering in the upper stem, are palmately divided, up to 1 meter long, and with heart-shaped base, 5-7 lobed blade, stout, 30 to 50cm petiole, and 2 stipules. Flowers are small and petiolate. Most globular umbels arrange into a large cone. Drupelike berry is nearly spherical and flat. Exocarp is fleshy, hard and brittle. By the way, rice paper plant flowers, buds, root, and pollen are used for medicinal purposes too. Rice-Paper Plant is named so because it is the raw material of rice paper or pith pater, which is not only used for watercolor drawings in white sheets, but also widely dyed in many colors for making artificial flowers. But it is very seldom used for writing because of its texture. Besides, rice paper art and rice paper lamp are the relevant popular items too. Rice-Paper Plant is natove to E. Asia – China, Taiwan. Flowering: August-September.
Medicinal uses: Rice-Paper Plant is a traditionally used medicinal plant. And the main medicinal part is its long, round pith, which looks like a wick and touches like sponge or foam.

Plant A Paper Bush

Paper bush and daffodils at Gibbs Gardens, Ball Ground, Georgia

Is this the winter of your discontent? Grumpy knows how to make you happy. Plant a paper bush. Not only will you win instant recognition as a gardener to be reckoned with, but you will also enjoy a carefree shrub that brightens winter with months of fragrant blooms.

Native to China, paper bush (Edgeworthia chrysantha) gets its name from its bark, which is used in Asia to make high-quality paper. The first place I ever saw it was many years ago at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Back then, it was known as Edgeworthia papyrifera, which I believe to be a totally different species with much smaller flowers than the ones you see here. Plant connoisseurs knew about paper bush, but it didn’t grab much attention until nurserymen planting displays for winter garden shows discovered that it was just about the easiest shrub to force into early bloom indoors. Thousands of winter-weary gardeners spied it, dropped their dentures in dismay, and coveted like they’ve never coveted before. A star was born.

This Bud’s For You

Although it’s an attractive plant throughout the year, paper bush really starts to shine in late fall. Drooping, rounded flower buds covered with silky, silvery hairs appear on top of naked stems. When sunlight hits the buds, paper bush looks like it’s blooming already. The flower buds grow in size and prominence all winter. Then, in late winter, they pop open to reveal pendant clusters of tubular blooms that are white on the outside and tipped with yellow. The sweet fragrance reminds you that paper bush is kin to daphne (but it’s much easier to grow). Flowering can last 4 to 6 weeks.

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Plain old paper bush

Then What?

Summer isn’t a down time for paper bush. After it finishes blooming, it cloaks itself with very handsome foliage reminiscent of plumeria. Long, narrow, leathery, blue-green leaves up to 10 inches long give the shrub a tropical look. There is no fall color. Paper bush spreads by rhizomes, but isn’t invasive, and generally forms a dense, slowly expanding clump of long, pliable stems. Cuttings root easily in moist soil. Depending on the selection, paper bush grows 5 to 8 feet tall and wide. Growth is rapid.

New & Improved!

Ordinary paper bush is cool enough, but of course nurserymen are going to look for new ones that are even showier and more exciting. Plants Delights sells ‘Snow Cream,’ which boasts large clusters of extremely fragrant, golden-yellow flowers and is supposedly more cold-hardy than regular paper bush (down to 0 degrees). Forest Farm offers ‘Akebono’ (also sold as ‘Red Dragon’) that features orange-red flowers and grows slower and more compact than the species. Can a variegated paper bush be in the works? We have variegated versions of everything else.

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‘Akebono’ (photo by Briggs Propagators)

How to Grow

Paper bush is suited to the Middle, Lower, and Coastal South (USDA Zones 7-9), although with protection it might get by the Upper South (USDA Zone 6). Give it light shade and moist, fertile, well-drained soil containing lots of organic matter. It has no serious pests and pruning is seldom needed. Water during summer droughts. In addition to mail-order nurseries, paper bush is also available at better garden centers.

Plant of the Week: Broussonetia papyrifera, Paper Mulberry

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On a recent visit to Williamsburg, Va., the restored colonial capitol of Virginia, I noticed a row of obviously ancient, gnarled paper mulberry trees (Broussonetia papyriffera) growing in front of the Capitol building. Why would this Chinese tree be used to landscape a public space in the 18th century?

Paper mulberry is a fast growing deciduous tree of the mulberry family that has a broad spreading crown and a mature height of 35-40 feet. It has gray-brown smooth bark that takes on gnarled, Tolkienesque qualities as the tree ages. Unfortunately, trees send up sprouts from the roots, so unless the tree is isolated in a lawn area where these unwanted shoots can be kept mowed, a thicket of paper mulberries is likely to develop.

The light green leaves are 4-6 inches long, ovate in outline with serrate margins and softly pubescent beneath. Leaves may be simple with no lobes,, or once or twice lobed. Detached leaves have a milky sap. In the fall they produce decent yellow fall color.

Paper mulberry is a dioecious plant with male and female individuals. The fuzzy male catkins are 2-3 inches long, pinkie finger size and often curled like the “snakes” we used to set alight for July 4 celebrations. The female flowers are round balls that can produce an orange-red fruit in late summer. I’ve never seen the plant produce fruit. Most of the plants growing in the South, where the tree is now considered a weed tree, are clonally propagated males.

The four known species of paper mulberry are widely distributed in East Asia and Polynesia where they have been used for centuries by indigenous cultures. In China the long, easily extracted fibers were used in paper making with the fibers held together by rice glue. The paper lanterns used in Japan were traditionally made from the fibers of this tree. The leaves were used to feed silkworm caterpillars when trees were harvested for paper making.

As the people we think of as Polynesians began their migration into the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean many centuries ago, they took with them roots of paper mulberry from East Asia. It made it as far as Hawaii by means of this eastward migration. The white inner bark was stripped into long ribbon like pieces, pounded together and then bleached in the sun to make tapa cloth, their main fiber used in clothing.

In 1753, Linnaeus classified this tree as a Morus papyrifera, so it is not surprising that American colonial planters were also confused about the tree. It appears plants were first introduced into North America by Andre Michaux in 1785 when he came to our shores to study trees. Paper mulberry may not have been planted during the time Williamsburg served as the Colonia Capitol of Virginia (1699 – 1780), but it was no doubt planted soon after it arrived in this country because there was a lot of interest in wresting the silk industry from China. Though the silk craze didn’t reach its bubble period until the 1830’s, planters and entrepreneurs of the period thought silk manufacturing was going to be a very profitable business.

Though considered a weed tree and not worthy of growing, you still see patches of male paper mulberry throughout the South. It tolerates poor, dry soils and difficult inner city conditions. My father planted a tree on our dry central Oklahoma farm about 1960. By the end of the decade the tree – about 50 feet from the house – was only about 10 feet tall and just making do with the dry site. But we developed a leak in a bathroom pipe, and when I crawled under the house to fix it, I was greeted by a forest of paper mulberry suckers that had found the moisture and were having a merry old time in the dark crawl space.

For more information about horticulture or to see other Plant of the Week columns, visit Extension’s Web site, www.uaex.edu, or contact your county extension agent. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the U of A Division of Agriculture.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Planting billions of trees across the world is one of the biggest and cheapest ways of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.

As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions from human activities that remain in the atmosphere today, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”.

The analysis found there are 1.7bn hectares of treeless land on which 1.2tn native tree saplings would naturally grow. That area is about 11% of all land and equivalent to the size of the US and China combined. Tropical areas could have 100% tree cover, while others would be more sparsely covered, meaning that on average about half the area would be under tree canopy.

The scientists specifically excluded all fields used to grow crops and urban areas from their analysis. But they did include grazing land, on which the researchers say a few trees can also benefit sheep and cattle.

“This new quantitative evaluation shows restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said Prof Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who led the research. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”

Crowther emphasised that it remains vital to reverse the current trends of rising greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and forest destruction, and bring them down to zero. He said this is needed to stop the climate crisis becoming even worse and because the forest restoration envisaged would take 50-100 years to have its full effect of removing 200bn tonnes of carbon.

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But tree planting is “a climate change solution that doesn’t require President Trump to immediately start believing in climate change, or scientists to come up with technological solutions to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere”, Crowther said. “It is available now, it is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved.” Individuals could make a tangible impact by growing trees themselves, donating to forest restoration organisations and avoiding irresponsible companies, he added.

Other scientists agree that carbon will need to be removed from the atmosphere to avoid catastrophic climate impacts and have warned that technological solutions will not work on the vast scale needed.

Jean-François Bastin, also at ETH Zürich, said action was urgently required: “Governments must now factor into their national strategies.”

Q&A

Why are trees good for the environment?

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There are about three trillion trees on the planet and they play a major role in producing the oxygen we all breathe. But twice as many existed before the start of human civilisation.

Today, 10 billion more trees are cut down than are planted every year. This destruction is a significant contributor to the carbon emissions that are driving the climate crisis. However, trees draw carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere as they grow, and planting trees will need to play an important part in ending the climate emergency.

Forests are also a vital and rich habitat for wildlife. Earth is at the start of a sixth mass extinction of species and the razing of forests and other ecosystems is the biggest contributor to the losses. Tropical rainforests are especially important, hosting 50% of known terrestrial species on only 6% of the world’s land. Trees are also important in controlling regional rainfall, as they evaporate water from their leaves.

In urban areas, the shade from trees has been shown to both cool city streets and reduce levels of air pollution. They can also boost people’s wellbeing as part of green spaces, with research showing two-hour “dose” of nature a week significantly improving health.

Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief and founder of the Global Optimism group, said: “Finally we have an authoritative assessment of how much land we can and should cover with trees without impinging on food production or living areas. This is hugely important blueprint for governments and private sector.”

René Castro, assistant-director general at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, said: “We now have definitive evidence of the potential land area for re-growing forests, where they could exist and how much carbon they could store.”

The study, published in the journal Science, determines the potential for tree planting but does not address how a global tree planting programme would be paid for and delivered.

Crowther said: “The most effective projects are doing restoration for 30 US cents a tree. That means we could restore the 1tn trees for $300bn , though obviously that means immense efficiency and effectiveness. But it is by far the cheapest solution that has ever been proposed.” He said financial incentives to land owners for tree planting are the only way he sees it happening, but he thinks $300bn would be within reach of a coalition of billionaire philanthropists and the public.

Effective tree-planting could take place across the world, Crowther said: “The potential is literally everywhere – the entire globe. In terms of carbon capture, you get by far your biggest bang for your buck in the tropics but every one of us can get involved.” The world’s six biggest nations, Russia, Canada, China, the US, Brazil and Australia, contain half the potential restoration sites.

Tree planting initiatives already exist, including the Bonn Challenge, backed by 48 nations, aimed at restoring 350m hectares of forest by 2030. But the study shows that many of these countries have committed to restore less than half the area that could support new forests. “This is a new opportunity for those countries to get it right,” said Crowther. “Personally, Brazil would be my dream hotspot to get it right – that would be spectacular.”

The research is based on the measurement of the tree cover by hundreds of people in 80,000 high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth. Artificial intelligence computing then combined this data with 10 key soil, topography and climate factors to create a global map of where trees could grow.

This showed that about two-thirds of all land – 8.7bn ha – could support forest, and that 5.5bn ha already has trees. Of the 3.2bn ha of treeless land, 1.5bn ha is used for growing food, leaving 1.7bn of potential forest land in areas that were previously degraded or sparsely vegetated.

“This research is excellent,” said Joseph Poore, an environmental researcher at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford. “It presents an ambitious but essential vision for climate and biodiversity.” But he said many of the reforestation areas identified are currently grazed by livestock including, for example, large parts of Ireland.

“Without freeing up the billions of hectares we use to produce meat and milk, this ambition is not realisable,” he said. Crowther said his work predicted just two to three trees per field for most pasture: “Restoring trees at density is not mutually exclusive with grazing. In fact many studies suggest sheep and cattle do better if there are a few trees in the field.”

Crowther also said the potential to grow trees alongside crops such as coffee, cocoa and berries – called agro-forestry – had not been included in the calculation of tree restoration potential, and neither had hedgerows: “Our estimate of 0.9bn hectares is reasonably conservative.”

However, some scientists said the estimated amount of carbon that mass tree planting could suck from the air was too high. Prof Simon Lewis, at University College London, said the carbon already in the land before tree planting was not accounted for and that it takes hundreds of years to achieve maximum storage. He pointed to a scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 1.5C report of 57bn tonnes of carbon sequestered by new forests this century.

Other scientists said avoiding monoculture plantation forests and respecting local and indigenous people were crucial to ensuring reforestation succeeds in cutting carbon and boosting wildlife.

Earlier research by Crowther’s team calculated that there are currently about 3tn trees in the world, which is about half the number that existed before the rise of human civilisation. “We still have a net loss of about 10bn trees a year,” Crowther said.

Visit the Crowther Lab website for a tool that enables users to look at particular places and identify the areas for restoration and which tree species are native there.

• This article was amended on 18 October 2019 to reflect a revision made to the original research paper, and a clarification in a letter by the authors of the study in the journal Science, that responds to criticism of their work. They clarify that one comparison made did not take into account that 55% of the CO2 produced by human activity is absorbed by land and oceans. The text of the first and second paragraph of this article have been edited to reflect this and the paper revision.

Wild rice

Wild rice, (genus Zizania), also called Indian rice, water rice, or water oats, genus of four species of coarse grasses of the family Poaceae, the grain of which is sometimes grown as a delicacy. Despite their name, the plants are not related to true rice (Oryza sativa). Wild rice grows naturally in shallow freshwater marshes and along the shores of streams and lakes, and the three North American species have long been an important food of Native American peoples. The cultivated varieties of wild rice, annual wild rice (Zizania aquatica) and northern wild rice (Z. palustris), are grown in constructed paddies in Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, and parts of Canada, where the plants are planted and harvested on a large scale by mechanical means. The single Asian species, Manchurian wild rice (Z. latifolia), is cultivated as a vegetable in eastern Asia but is not important as a grain crop.

Wild rice (Zizania aquatica).W.H. Hodge

Wild rice plants are about 1 to 3 metres (3.3 to 10 feet) tall and are topped with a large open flower cluster. While the cultivated North American species are both annual plants, the endangered Texas wild rice (Z. texana) and Manchurian wild rice are perennials. The ripened grains, dark brown to purplish black, are slender rods 1 to 2 cm (0.4 to 0.8 inch) long. Natural and cultivated stands of the plants provide food and shelter for waterfowl and other birds.

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