non-invasive 'paulowina'? ? yes ! ! !

gransfun(8/9)October 17, 2007

NEWS (to me, anyway!) ABOUT ROYAL EMPRESS Tree (paulowina ):

I've been inquiring about the Royal Empress tree, because of its beauty, as well as the fast growth. From everything I had previously read, people had definite & divided opinions about the trees value. Still, I hoped that, because of its beauty and fast growth, that it wasnÂt one of those "To GOOD to be TRUE" type things and hoped that the tree would not be invasive in my area. IÂm also a "stickler" about FACTS. So I continued my research. I heard somewhere, that former President Jimmy Carter was helping to PROMOTE this tree. But why, I did not know.

FINALLY! I found a website that sheds a lot of light on the subject.

This is the site for:

The Paulownia Tree Company

P.O. Box 417

Talmage, California 95481

E-Mail at:

OWNER: ZoeÂAnna Thies

Apparently, the tree can be invasive. But something can be done to prevent that! And IS BEING DONE BY THIS COMPANY. Zoe'Anna esplains that it is a specialized process "... to reproduce the trees that assures they are sterile and non-invasive when brought into a new area. It actually starts in a laboratory with tissue cultures in a Petri dish that allows me to make an exact duplicate of the mother stock..."

I am not aware if anyone else does this or if the seeds from these Specialty trees would be invasive or not.

I have emailed Ms. Thies the questions I still have.

But I have learned:



*A fast growing hardwood, paulownia can be commercially harvested in five to seven years.! ( Forestry trees grow 70Â-80Â in 10-15 yrs. Ornamental trees grow 25'-30' in 3 years! )

*Hardwood is light_ does not warp, crack, or twist. is fire resistant, University of Texas labeled wood fire resistant due to flashpoint of 477o.

*Hardwood is used for furniture, musical instruments, doors, moldings, window frames, poles, pulp, and paper. Makes great veneer and plywood.


('Guess these are the reasons President Carter wanted to promote the trees, huh?)


*The leaves make a nice tea &

*Flowers are edible _add to salads

*Organic honey production,: most of the honey from China comes from the Paulownia tree.

*Intercropping for food staples and specialty crops.

* Many More...


*Increased nitrogen uptake per acre.

*Erosion control.

*Waterway contamination can be significantly reduced.

*Can reduce the spread of odors.


I know this post is probably way too long, so IÂll TRY to stop! Along with the things IÂve mentioned, thereÂs tons of other info at this site! Like:

**Why the Paulowina Tree Went to the Oscars!

**What Trees Have to do with PEACE!

I am just so excited about this! Even if itÂs just to get for myself one non-invasive tree!

*** But, heck! I may just start

raising forest trees! Lol!


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PS They also sell snake oil!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 8:38PM
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saccharum(z9 FL)

I find the wording interesting: "sterile and non-invasive when brought into a new area." Only when brought into a new area?

Paulownia is self-fertile, but there are some lab culture techniques that have been used to propagate some other plant species so that the clones are male-sterile (I don't know if this has been accomplished reliably with Paulownia). That would be an effective way of keeping them from producing seed, if and only if there are no other Paulownia trees around that have fertile male flower parts.

But that's just my speculation, because that site is a bit thrifty with the details on this propagation technique, and the putative non-invasiveness.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 9:00PM
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This nursery is selling Paulownia elongata, P. fortunei, and P. kawakamii, 4-9" plants @ $19.95 reproduced by TC.
I don't see any claim of sterility on the website. The main grievance that many have with the P. tomentosa is that it produces seed and comes up everywhere. If this grower does in fact have TC clones which do not produce seed this would be a major selling point. If there is no claim of sterility made, she cannot be held accountable for it.
How winter-hardy are the flower buds? Why is there an assumption that 25-30' of growth in 3 years is desirable?
Who is growing these species for timber production? Who is buying it? Gransfun, if you are a stickler for facts give us some independent links.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 9:01PM
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Can someone tell me what is beautiful about this tree, it is the most hideous thing. Looks like a bean stalk x corn plant on 'roids mixed with rabbit chromosomes.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 9:23PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Beyond all the above, Paulownia is a rapid-growing, weak-wooded tree which drops branches in the wind.

Further, because the flower buds are present through the winter, they may be frost-damaged and/or killed.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 9:27PM
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Fledgeling_(4b SD)

Thanks for the information, but i am hesitant to take anything from a company with the same name as the tree they are promoting as being unbiased. Can you please give some independent sources as well?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 9:42PM
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Gransfun, I think you really really want a paulowina, so you should probably get one and make yourself happy!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 10:28PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Last I knew, which WAS a few years ago, the man who had been buying Paulownia logs for timber in this area had stopped buying them - the market in the Far East had disappeared, or prices had dropped too far. My info is second-hand, so I may be wrong. I don't think there is a market for it, specifically, as a fine timber tree in the US. As a pulp tree, or as a wood-chip tree, then probably you could sell them.

While paulownia is a valued wood in antique Chinese furniture, and is quite lovely in the examples I saw while living in San Francisco, my understanding is that the wood was from "old growth' forests, not from rapidly-grown, modern wood - we ARE talking about antiques here.

I have a feeling that the caveats expressed above are valid - this particular tree would be sterile IF there were no other Paulownia trees near-by. After all, when the dreaded Bradford pear was first grown, it was though to be sterile. It turned out to be self-sterile, but quite compatible with other ornamental pear cultivars - hence the forests of Bradford pears springing up!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 10:37PM
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Good point Dibbit.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 8:51AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes, these would be non-invasive (so far) simply by virtue of being species other than P. tomentosa.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 12:25PM
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Seeing as how the stems are hollow, a fairly small tree could make one interesting bong. Not that I'm into that stuff or anything.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 5:52PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

What a dope-y comment.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 3:55AM
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Carrie B

There are a few local arboretums that treat paulownia as a cut back shrub. They cut the paulownia back to the ground every year, it shoots up to 30' in one season, with enormous leaves. Treating it this way means it never flowers (they don't flower on new wood) - so cannot reproduce by seed. The foliage on these new, annual shoots is much larger than it would be on a tree allowed to grow normally.

It produces an interesting accent in the garden, but does create a responsibility for the gardener to be sure to cut it all the way back every year.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 7:36AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Today I saw one popping up out of a rockery at a nearby business. So far this seems to be the main source of local "infestations", I have never seen spontaneous empress trees in any other non-irrigated places here except other rockeries (dry stone walls). A patch of seedlings, surely from my trees (I have three species) appeared awhile back in the yard across the street, but they water liberally.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 9:19PM
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I think P.t. is a very beautiful tree, and here in the Pacific Northwest we haven't had problems with it spreading.
And on the west side of the Cascades, we usually don't get cold enough to freeze the flower buds off. I haven't seen the other species in flower but have heard that they are as colorful or more so than P. tomentosa. As for their leaves being big and unattractive, I don't feel they are any more or less than our native big leaf maple, Acer macrophyllum.
I like to create a tropical looking garden and cutting P. tomentosa back each year gives me a plant that is tropical looking with leaves two feet or more in diameter. These leaves are very popular with people making concrete cast of leaves, along with Gunnera and Tetrapanax papyrifera 'Steroidal Giant' other large leaf plants.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 2:10PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Buds do freeze here, in fact the inflorescence to the left in your top photo shows what appears to be an example of it - that is the same appearance produced anyway, a portion of the inflorescence only opening, the rest of the buds having frozen and died.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 3:03PM
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You are right, as I said, "we usually don't get cold enough to freeze the flower buds off." That picture was taken this spring after going through two cold periods, one right after Thanksgiving and other in January. The January one was cold for most of the month with temperatures barely getting above freezing for most of the month. We also had four nights of 15º F temperatures with it not getting above freezing during the day. The second picture is from a tree at the University of Washington's Arboretum after a mild winter. That tree this summer didn't look as good after going through last winters temperatures.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 3:43PM
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