Broussonetia papyrifera (paper mulberry)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Habitat List
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Plant Trade
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Impact: Biodiversity
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Wood Products
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Broussonetia papyrifera (L.) L'Herit ex Vent.
Preferred Common Name
- paper mulberry
Other Scientific Names
- Morus papyrifera L.
- Papyrius papyrifera (L.) Kuntze
International Common Names
- English: papermulberry tree; tapa cloth tree
- Spanish: moral de la China; morera de papel; morera del papel; papelero
- French: murier a papier; mûrier à papier
- Portuguese: amoreira do papel
Local Common Names
- Germany: Papiermaulbeerbaum
- India: kachnar
- Indonesia: saeh
- Italy: gelso papirifero del Giappone; moro della China
- Japan: aka; aka kowso; kename kowso; kodzu; pokasa
- Myanmar: malaing
- Pakistan: gul toot
- Taiwan: lu-a-shu
- Thailand: por-gra-saa; por-saa; ton-saa
- Tonga: hiapo
- USA/Hawaii: po'a'aha; wauke
- BRNPA (Broussonetia papyrifera)
- paper mulberry
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
B. papyrifera is a highly invasive species, becoming weedy and difficult to remove after its introduction. Its timber does not have high commercial value. Due to its excessive growth, it has become an agent of change in the whole ecosystem affecting native flora, human beings and causing economic losses.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Urticales
- Family: Moraceae
- Genus: Broussonetia
- Species: Broussonetia papyrifera
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page The genus Broussonetia was named after P.N.V. Broussonet, a French naturalist, who took a male tree (of B. papyrifera) from a garden in Scotland, UK and introduced it to Paris, France, where a female tree was growing, thus enabling fruit to be described (Parker, 1956). The genus contains 8 species, 7 native to Asia and one to Madagascar.
There are 16 or 17 recognized varieties of the East Asian species B. papyrifera, including five wild varieties.The specific name papyrifera means paper-bearing. The paper made from wild varieties is inferior to that from non-wild varieties (Watt, 1972).
DescriptionTop of page B. papyrifera is a medium to large deciduous tree. The crown is round and spreading. It is a hardy, fast-growing tree and under favourable conditions in a hot, moist climate can attain a height of 21 m and a diameter of 70 cm (Luna, 1996). Its stout, grey-brown, spreading branches are brittle and susceptible to wind damage. The branches are marked with stipular scars. Young branchlets are subtomentose and shoots are pubescent when young. The bark is light-grey, smooth, with shallow fissures or ridges. The stem, branches and petioles contain a milky latex (Luna, 1996).
B. papyrifera has variable mulberry-like papery leaves. Some leaves are distinctly deep lobed, while others are unlobed. Several different shapes of leaves may appear on the same shoot. The leaves are alternate/subopposite, ovate, acuminate, dentate-crenate, their bases often oblique, scabrous above, with a woolly surface on the lower side. The leaves are 9.7 x 6.6 cm in size. The petioles are 3-10 cm long and the stipules 1.6-2.0 cm long (Parker, 1956).
B. papyrifera is unisexual and dioecious. The male flower is 3.5-7.5 cm long, yellowish-white, with pendulous catkin-like spikes. The perianth is campanulate, hairy, 4-fid, and its segments are valvate. The female flowers are in rounded clusters in globose pedunculate heads about 1.3 cm in diameter. Persistent, hairy, clavate bracts subtend flowers. The fruit is shiny-reddish, fleshy, globose and compound with the achenes hanging on long fleshy stalks. The achenes are 1-2 cm long and wide.
Plant TypeTop of page Perennial
DistributionTop of page B. papyrifera is native to East Asia and is extensively cultivated within its natural range for its bark. Native to China, Taiwan and Japan and possibly native to the Pacific islands of Hawaii and Samoa.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|Uganda||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Witt and Luke (2017); CABI (Undated)|
|Zimbabwe||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|China||Present||Native||CABI (Undated)||Original citation: Ghafoor, 1985|
|India||Present||Introduced||Planted||CABI (Undated)||Original citation: Ghafoor, 1985|
|Indonesia||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|Japan||Present||Native||Planted||CABI (Undated)||Original citation: Ghafoor, 1985|
|Malaysia||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|North Korea||Present||CABI (Undated a)|
|Pakistan||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Planted||CABI (Undated)||Original citation: Ghafoor, 1985|
|South Korea||Present||CABI (Undated a)|
|Taiwan||Present||Native||Planted||CABI (Undated)||Original citation: Ghafoor, 1985|
|Thailand||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|Hungary||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|Italy||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Planted||CABI (Undated)||Original citation: Attarado & Trigilia, 1999|
|Slovakia||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|Slovenia||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|Spain||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|Ukraine||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|United States||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|-Florida||Present||Introduced||CABI (Undated a)|
|-Hawaii||Present||CABI (Undated a)|
|-Tennessee||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council (1996)|
|Samoa||Present||CABI (Undated)||Original citation: Ghafoor, 1985|
|Solomon Islands||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
|Tonga||Present||Planted||CABI (Undated a)|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page B. papyrifera has become naturalized throughout Asia, from India and Pakistan to Thailand, Malaysia and the Pacific Islands, and also in North America. It was introduced to India in 1880 at Saharanpur and by 1924 it had spread to Lahore along irrigation channels and into Shahdara plantation, and it was already predicted that it would become common in the sub-Himalayan tract as well as in the more heavily irrigated portions of the plains especially where there was little other vegetation (Parker, 1956). In Pakistan, paper mulberry was intentionally introduced to make the Islamabad (Capital) and Rawalpindi area green. But in less than 30 years it not only became highly invasive in the natural vegetation but also caused health problems in the human population. It is now commonly found in India and Pakistan from sea level to 1000 m altitude and has become highly invasive and a troublesome weed in many localities. It has been successfully planted in some European countries (Italy, Slovenia, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain) and in the USA. It has been under trial in Tonga, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Zimbabwe and the subtropical Lake zone of Uganda (Streets, 1962; Erker, 1979; Coiutti, 1993). It has also been introduced in Russia, West Asia, Tropical Africa, Polynesia, the Philippines and many other countries as a venue tree (Abdul Ghafoor, 1985).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page Genetics
Little work has been done to determine the extent of genetic variation in B. papyrifera for breeding purposes. However, a number of cultivated and wild varieties are recognized in this species. Studies have been carried out on B. papyrifera in Taiwan to determine the variation in seed size and weight, average number of days for germination, and growth of seedlings under different nursery conditions (Lu et al., 1984). Another study analyzed variation in bark colour and the sex segregration of open-pollinated seedlings from various seedlots (Lu, 1985). Larger-scale provenance trials and progeny testing are recommended.
Physiology and Phenology
B. papyrifera is a light demander but can grow under adverse light conditions as well (Bokhari, 1973; Luna, 1996 ). It is a highly invasive species and spreads quickly on newly exposed sites. It spreads by seed, primarily through birds, and by root suckers, which it sends out in great numbers from its superficial roots. It also coppices vigorously.
Following invasion of an area, it excludes other species and it is very difficult to eradicate. If felled and uprooted it can maintain its presence by means of numerous suckers which grow from any portions of root left in the ground (Troup, 1921). Its growth is extremely fast and it quickly out-competes other species. It is frost hardy but does not tolerate drought. It is sensitive to root competition and cannot grow on poor sites with heavy weed and grass growth. It is tolerant of urban pollution (including airborne sulphur dioxide), moisture-sapping wind in hot and dry regions, and nitrogen loading near fertilizer factories (Kovacs and Klincsek, 1982).
In India, leaves are shed between September and January and the new leaves appear in February or March (Watt, 1972). On average, the trees are leafless for one to three months (Luna, 1996). The flowers appear in March-April. The fruit ripens in the rainy season from July to September.
B. papyrifera is insect- and wind-pollinated, and can be grown from seed (sown and self-sown), stem cuttings, coppice and root suckers. Most plantations of this species in India and Pakistan are from self-sown seed, coppice or root suckers. It regenerates freely from seed in moist places where there is not already heavy plant cover, and seedlings can become a problem around mature trees. It can also be readily grown from cuttings, even in December (Parker, 1956). Intensive planting is avoided, however, because the wood is no longer commonly used on a commercial scale (Bokhari, 1973).
Seeds are light and small, with about 540,000 seeds per kilogram. The germination rate of seeds is 50% and the seedling survival rate is 25-30% (Luna, 1996). Seed germination starts three weeks after sowing and is completed within four months. Green immature fruits treated with ethylene at 0.1% concentration for 48 hours at 18°C become ripe and can then be sown in nursery beds. Seeds collected in June usually show a tendency to be dormant for about one month after sowing, indicating a period of after-ripening. Seed dispersed by birds has been observed to germinate readily.
B. papyrifera is native to East Asia with its warm and humid climate, with a temperature range of 0-40°C and with an annual rainfall of up to 2500 mm (Sheikh, 1993). It prefers a sub-humid warm, sub-tropical monsoon climate. The tree is remarkable for the variety of climates in which it can be grown, being hardy enough to survive in Europe. However its growth in cool climates is not as vigorous as in a warm, moist climate (Parker, 1956).
B. papyrifera requires moist, well-drained soil and has been unsuccessful when tried on poor soil. It prefers sandy loams and light soils. Stiff clay and hard laterite soils prevent penetration of the roots to the sub-soil, resulting in stunted growth (Luna, 1996).
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-10|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||12||30|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||25||40|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||0||10|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||3||4||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||700||2500||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Bimodal
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page See Crop Pests and Diseases.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page The fruits of B. papyrifera are consumed by many types of birds and other small animals which are thought to disseminate the seeds. Water may also play a role of dispersal alongside water courses or irrigation channels.
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page According to the Central Development Authorities of Islamabad, Pakistan, the total expenditure on manual removal of B. papyrifera and other weeds is more than US$500,000 per year.
Environmental ImpactTop of page B. papyrifera has the capability of massive water consumption, a reason why they are more often seen around water, but also slowing the flow of water in channels and suppressing the growth of other plants. These channels not only provide water but also work as a dispersal source for the seeds. The huge canopy of the tree besides covering the outsized area provides shade over the closely growing trees and local shrubs, which creates competition for light, space and water.
Impact: BiodiversityTop of page In Pakistan, direct competition of B. papyrifera limits the growth of the native Dalbergia sissoo, Morus alba and Ziziphus sp., an important source of nectar for honey bees. especially near Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The thick monocultures at different sites have rapidly replaced the native flora and fauna, although these thickets have also become refuges for wild boar and other mammals, and enhanced the build up of the crow population.
Social ImpactTop of page During 1995, the Pakistan Medical Research Council found more than 45% of the allergic patients in Islamabad and Rawalpindi showed positive sensitivity to pollen of B. papyrifera, and was considered extremely important for pollen allergy tests not only because of allergenicity of its pollen, but also for the high quantity of pollen produced and pollen dispersibility. The need to eradicate in Pakistan was based largely on these effects.
In addition, the growth and excessive root systems of B. papyrifera has checked the flow of most of the drains of Nallah Lai near Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan, resulting in increased flood risks, and is considered to have assisted in the worst flood of the history in Rawalpindi where many people died or lost their homes.
The red fleshy fruit tend to attract the birds, especially crows, which become a nuisance for the residents of affected areas.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Has high reproductive potential
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Negatively impacts human health
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page B. papyrifera establishes itself quickly on denuded and degraded sites in the form of a thick tree cover, fixing soils and preventing further erosion of eroded sites because of its dichotomous root system (Luna, 1996). Once established, it spreads quickly to adjacent areas, hence B. papyrifera is not generally recommended for growing on farmland along with field crops. In a trial at Dehra Dun, India, application of chopped leaf mulch of B. papyrifera, at 4 t/ha, improved soil moisture and phosphorus content, and led to increased crop productivity (Tomar et al., 1992).
The wood is light-coloured, soft, greyish-white, even and straight grained. It is light, with a basic density of 506 kg/cubic metre (Luna, 1996). It is not durable. The timber is very weak compared to other commonly used timbers in respect to almost all mechanical properties, either in green or air-dried condition (Gulati et al., 1981). The timber from B. papyrifera, being soft and brittle, is used mainly in the manufacture of cheap furniture, match sticks, packing cases, boxes, plywood, building-boards, sports equipment and pencils (Food Agriculture Organization, 1980; Sheikh, 1993). It is also suitable for production of newsprint, writing and printing papers. It yields rayon grade pulp by a water pre-hydrolysis sulphate process (Guha and Madan, 1964). Pulping trials on B. papyrifera have been conducted in Zimbabwe and Uganda. Other trials have been carried out at the Pakistan Forest Institute, Peshawar (Suleman and Kausar, 1996). Wood, bark and whole wood of B. papyrifera were pulped by kraft, soda, and alkaline peroxide mechanical pulping (APMP). Kraft pulp from wood was found to have the best strength properties, but yields were highest with the APMP process.
Bast fibre from B. papyrifera is used for tapa in the South Sea Islands and for special paper making, such as paper napkins, lens paper, cosmetic tissue and luxurious hand-made paper in Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia etc.
In Japan, B. papyrifera is extensively used for manufacture of pulp and extremely strong and high quality paper (Bhat and Guha, 1952; Streets, 1962; Nicolas and Navarro, 1964; Danaatmadja, 1992; Food Agriculture Organization, 1980). The shoots are cut into small pieces and steamed, the bark is then stripped off and the outer dark portion scraped off for coarser quality paper. The inner finer parts are washed, kneaded, bleached in the sun, and then boiled in lye and pounded into pulp. However, the material cannot be widely used for large scale manufacture of pulp and paper unless an economical method of removing the outer bark is found. In Myanmar, papier-mâché school slates are made from the bark (Watt, 1972). There are 16 or 17 recognized varieties of B. papyrifera, including five wild varieties.The paper made from wild varieties is inferior to that from non-wild varieties. This is due to differences in fibre length, cell wall thickness, lumen diameter, etc. (Watt, 1972).
B. papyrifera can be lopped for fodder. In a study in Taiwan, the leaves were studied for digestiblity. Of the various components, 67.7% of dry matter was digestible, crude protein 84.8%, crude fibre 65.5%, crude fat 35.0% and ash 50.3% (Lin et al., 1996). B. papyrifera seedlings and saplings are browsed by cattle. The leaves are also used for feeding silkworms. The chemical constituents of B. papyrifera have medicinal (antiplatelet) properties for humans (Fang et al; 1995; Lin et al., 1996).
It has also been investigated for its properties as a pesticide. The leaf powder of B. papyrifera when fed to Helicoverpa armigera caused restriction in its pupation and adult emergence (Anwar et al., 1992). The xylem contains an antifungal substance (against Fusarium spp.) (Shirata and Takahashi, 1979).
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Fodder/animal feed
- Invertebrate food for silkworms
- Erosion control or dune stabilization
- Shade and shelter
- Soil improvement
- Carved material
- Miscellaneous materials
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
Wood ProductsTop of page
- Long-fibre pulp
- Short-fibre pulp
Sawn or hewn building timbers
- Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
- For light construction
- Sports equipment
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.Plans to manually eradicate B. papyrifera have met with limited success because of gregarious vegetative reproduction and its invasive nature through seeds. Newly sprouted shoots from tree stumps and suckers are cut and burnt, being replaced by higher quality native timber trees, however this is not an effective method. The most common techniques are manual control methods, by hand pulling, hand picking, cutting, etc., but are not enough for complete management of the tree. Biological control has not yet been used for control of B. papyrifera, it may be the most appropriate way through selection and introduction of a suitable biological control agent.
ReferencesTop of page
Backer CA, Bakhuizen van den Brink RC, 1965. Flora of Java. Vol. 2: 150. Groningen, Netherlands: NVP Noordhoff
Bhat RV, Guha SR, 1952. Indigenous cellulosic raw materials for the production of pulp, paper and board. Part VI. Writing and printing papers from Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) Indian Forester, 78 (2), 93-99. 3 refs
Bokhari AS, 1973. Revised working plan of Changa Manga plantation (Kasur Forest Division). Lahore, India: Government Printing
Burkhill IH, 1935. A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula. Vol. I. Malaya: Dept. of Agric
Danaatmadja O, 1992. Saeh (Broussonetia papyrifera Vent.) as raw material for luxurious hand-made paper. [Saeh (Broussonetia papyrifera Vent.) sebagai bahan baku kertas mewah.] Duta Rimba, 18(141-142):14-17
Food and Agriculture Organization, Forestry Department, 1980. Pulping and paper-making properties of fast-growing plantation wood species. 2 vols. FAO Forestry Paper, No. 19, 472 + 392 pp.; Vol. 2: ISBN 92-5-100866-3; 204 ref
Guha SRD, Madan RN, 1964. Viscose rayon pulp from paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) by water prehydrolysis sulphate process. Indian Pulp & Paper, XVIII(12)
Liao JC, 1989. A taxonomic revision of the family Moraceae in Taiwan. (3). Genera Humulus, Maclura, Malaisia and Morus. Quarterly Journal of The Experimental Forest of National Taiwan University, 3(1):153-158; 22 ref
Lin ChunNan, Lu ChaiMing, Lin HsienCheng, Fang SongChwan, Shieh BorJinn, Hsu MeiFeng, Wang JinPyang, Ko FengNien, Teng CheMing, 1996. Novel antiplatelet constituents from Formosan Moraceous plants. Journal of Natural Products, 59(9):834-838; 15 ref
Lu CM, 1985. Study on the variations of Broussonetia papyrifera (3) Variations of bark color and sexuality segregrations of open pollinated seedlings from various seed-lots. Bulletin, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, No. 452, 11 pp.; En tables; 8 ref
Lu CM, Hu TW, Liu CC, 1984. Study on variation in Broussonetia papyrifera - variation in the average number of days for germination and growth of seedlings under different nursery conditions. Bulletin, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, No. 431, 21pp.; En captions and tables; 11 ref
Parker RN, 1956. A forest flora for the Punjab with Hazara and Delhi. Lahore, Pakistan: Government Printing Press
Sheikh MI, 1993. Trees of Pakistan. GOP-USAID Forestry Planning and Development Project. Islamabad, Pakistan: Pictorial Printers (Pvt.) Ltd
Shirata A, Takahashi K, 1979. Production and accumulation of antifungal substances in xylem tissue of shoots of plants belonging to Moraceae. Annals of the Phytopathological Society of Japan, 45(2):156-161
Sosef MSM, Hong LT, Prawirohatmodjo S, eds, 1998. Plant resources of southeast Asia. Timber trees: lesser-known timbers. Leiden, The Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 5(3)
Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council, 1996. Invasive Exotic Pest Plants in Tennessee. Research Committee of the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council: Tennessee, USA
Suleman KM, Kausar N, 1996. Suitability of home grown paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) for pulp and paper manufacture. Peshawar, Pakistan: Pakistan Forest Institute
Takahashi K, Nishiyama K, Sato M, 1996. Pseudomonas syringae pv. broussonetiae pv. nov., the causal agent of bacterial blight of paper mulberry (Broussonetia kazinoki x B. papyrifera). Annals of the Phytopathological Society of Japan, 62(1):17-22; 9 ref
Watt G, 1972. Dictionary of the economic products of India. Vol. I. Dehra Dun, India: Periodical Experts
Witt, A., Luke, Q., 2017. Guide to the naturalized and invasive plants of Eastern Africa, [ed. by Witt, A., Luke, Q.]. Wallingford, UK: CABI.vi + 601 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20173158959 doi:10.1079/9781786392145.0000
CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI
CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council, 1996. Invasive Exotic Pest Plants in Tennessee., Tennessee, USA: Research Committee of the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council.
Witt A, Luke Q, 2017. Guide to the naturalized and invasive plants of Eastern Africa. [ed. by Witt A, Luke Q]. Wallingford, UK: CABI. vi + 601 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20173158959 DOI:10.1079/9781786392145.0000
Distribution MapsTop of page
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