For many centuries, the soft inner bark of Broussonetia papyrifera has provided raw material for paper-making and cloth-making, especially in East and Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Often planted as an ornamental, the tree has been naturalized in New York thanks to its tolerance for pollution in less-than-gracious urban settings such as the roadside verge shown here.
Originally identified as a member of the genus Morus, which includes the familiar finger-staining mulberries, the paper mulberry is in fact only a close relative. Even so, the ripe red fruits are reported to be edible; if you know someone who's actually tried them, clue me in.
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn