Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today


NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


Plant Profiles

Gold-leaved Paper Mulberry



Are these leaves bright enough?  I'm a fan of bold foliage, but even this unique chrome cultivar of the notorious weed-tree, the paper mulberry, makes me reach for my sunglasses.


I've planted 'Golden Shadow' at the back of my Wild Jasmine, whose small dark-green leaves bring excellent contrast.  As if this foliage needed help in getting your attention.  Both plants are at one end of the central axis of my entire garden, so they've gotten the focal-point location they deserve.


Since the foliage is so bright, how come the name is 'Golden Shadow'?  'Golden Spotlight' would be more like it.  The plant originated at the nursery of Don Shadow, a fourth-generation nurseryman in Tennessee. 



Here's a more recent update on handling this multi-talented tree so that its cool-season display of bark is maximized.


Here's all the basic info on how to grow this brilliant tree:


Latin Name

Broussonetia papyrifera 'Golden Shadow'

Common Name

Yellow-leaved Paper Mulberry


Moraceae, the Mulberry family.

What kind of plant is it?

Deciduous tree


Zones 6 - 10.


Round, broad, and so short-trunked it can look as much like a large shrub as a small tree.

Rate of Growth


Size in ten years

Ten feet tall and wide.


Dense and full.

Grown for

the brilliant chrome-yellow foliage, so saturated that it seems to have a "glare" of pure white.  Nurseries selling the plant should offer a complementary pair of sunglasses.  The foliage doesn't scorch in full sun, at least here in Rhode Island.  The leaves can have different shapes, even on the same branch, like sassafras.  Some are rounded with just one point at the end, others have one or two extra lobes.


Additionally, the young stems are a pleasant pale green in the Winter, and the maturing trunk—also green—develops a striking vertical overlay of cinnamon-colored striations. You wouldn't plant 'Golden Shadow' only for these features; goodness knows that the glowing foliage Spring to Fall is the reason for including this tree in your garden. But the Winter display of both young and old bark is substantive, and is an added bonus. Enhance its display further by training this tree as pollard. See the update here.

Flowering season



Although the straight species is infamous as a ruthless invader, growing in in the worst soils with vigor, 'Golden Shadow' is, in my experience, a delicate and, compared to the species, oddly slow-growing plant.  Full sun and excellent drainage are the starting points.  So far, excellent soil doesn't seem to hurry things up.

How to handle it: The Basics

Yellow-leaved paper mulberry's glowing foliage makes this plant a focal point, so plant it where you'd like your focus to be and let everyone's eyes be helplessly drawn toward it.  Or, rather, don't plant 'Golden Sunshine' where you don't want everyone to wander right over and start staring.


Despite being described as hardy in Zone 6, I've killed six or eight young plants at various Zone 6 garden-design projects.  Don't plant this below Zone 7 unless your site has full sun and remarkable Winter drainage, even if that means that the soil is lean and gravelly.  After growing mine in a pot for some years, I've risked planting it in the garden, where my rich soil and flat terrain may doom it by February.  We'll all see in Spring 2012 if the tree has survived the Winter. 


If the tree establishes, and then starts to grow with anything like the nearly relentless vigor of the straight species, I'll coppice it each Spring. If. UPDATE of 2015: Yes, indeed, the tree has proven to be quite vigorous. I've chosen to pollard it, with the unexpected bonus that the bark of both the young twigs and the right-nearby trunk are both displayed beautifully. See how here.


'Golden Shadow' itself seems harmless, but the straight species is reknowned for having pipe-clogging roots and concrete-busting trunks, and for shedding so much pollen that they are an allergic nightmare.  No wonder I didn't even know what Broussonetia was when I first saw this plant's listing.


The straight species, Broussonetia papyrifera, should never be planted because it's so invasive and disruptive.  So it's 'Golden Shadow' or nothing.




Cuttings and grafting.

Native habitat

Eastern Asia.

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