Paulownia is an amazing tree with ancient roots and multiple uses. Paulownia is one of the fastest growing tree on the planet and has been cultivated in China for almost 3000 years. Paulownia absorbs great amounts of CO2 and can reach up to 15-20 meters in only 3 years. It grows well in a wide variety of soil types and needs a lot of light. The most known Paulownia species are: Tormentosa, Fortunei, EIongate, Fargesii, GIabrata, Taiwaniania. There are almost 17 species in total.
Photo source: cas.vanderbilt.edu
The tree is highly cultivated for reforestation and roadside planting. In China Paulownia occupies about 1,300,000 hectares of land throughout the whole country, but is also cultivated in many parts of eastern Asia, notably in Japan and Korea. In USA the tree grows since 1800. Paulownia Tormentosa is also called Empress tree or Princess tree, in honor of the Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia. This species is highly cultivated as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens. However, it seems that PaulowniaTormentosa is listed as an invasive species in the southeastern United States.
Paulownia is a very profitable tree for a business with timber. The tree is fast growing and its timber has multiple qualities: it is very light (30% lighter than any hardwood), resistant to warping, cracking or deformation. The wood is easy to work with and is preferred in fabrication of parts for which the low weight is very important. For example it is proper for aviation structures and parts for vessels. The Paulownia timber is also used for household furniture, plywood, moldings, doors, musical instruments etc.
Plantation of Paulownia in early stage. Photo source: suris
Plantation of Paulownia (approx 3 years). Photo source: paulowniadevelopment
Renewable energy sources
Paulownia is rot resistance and has a very high ignition point. The fast growth is very suitable for obtaining large quantites of biomass in a short time. The biomass of Paulownia is suitable as food for animals or as a material for alternative renewable energy sources.
Today there is a huge demand for bio-ethanol. In the middle of a worldwide energy crisis bio-ethanol is the fuel of future that can be used as a partial substitute for road fuels. Bio-ethanol is easy to produce from cellulose and is has no risk for the environment.
Paulownia is very profitable for bio-ethanol production because almost everything from this tree is used, including branches and other parts that usually pass as waste.
To obtain an efficient production of biomass trees are planted at a higher density than the usual density (2-3 metres) required for the production of timber.
Cosmetic and medicine
The Paulownia leaves contain some substances that are said to be good for health and beauty purposes. The substances can improve liver, kidneys and gallbladder activity. Also, leaves have good effect against pulmonary diseases.
The Paulownia blossom contains heliotropin, a substance used in perfumery. The aroma is similar with the Tahitian vanilla.
Honey is made from by bees that feed on the nectar of Paulownia ﬂowers. The honey of Paulownia has a high quality, it is flavored and has a clear light color. By color and consistency it is comparable only with the acacia honey. The honey has medicinal properties that can improve digestion, the function of the gall and liver and can be used to cure bronchitis and other respiratory diseases. Most of the honey from China comes from the Paulownia tree. Moreover the blossoms themselves are used for food in China and Europe.
With a proper care and not too large investment, growing Paulownia tree is a friendly environmental activity that can be a great business for some. What do you think about making a living from growing Paulownia trees?
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