Forests & Forestry
Paulownia is native to the Orient. It is also called the Chinese Empress tree, the Princess tree or the Kiri tree. Paulownia is known for its extremely fast growth, clusters of showy and fragrant lavender flowers, elephant-ear-sized leaves and extraordinary cash value. The major commercial market is with Japan. Paulownia is used to make furniture, gift boxes, bowls, toys, clogs, handicrafts and musical instruments. The wood is also used for traditional products such as construction lumber, plywood and veneer.
Athough many species of Paulownia exist in Asia, many are considered subtropical and will not become marketable trees in the southern United States. The three species commonly recommended for planting in the United States are Paulownia tomentosa (Royal Paulownia), P. fortunei (white-flowered Paulownia) and P. elongata. Royal Paulownia is more tolerant to cold winter temperatures to 0 degrees F, while P. fortunei and P. elongata are more susceptible to cold winter temperatures and should be planted where winter temperatures rarely get below 20 degrees F.
In Japan, Paulownia wood is used for a multitude of products because it is attractive, strong, lightweight, quick-drying, versatile and has good resonance qualities. The wood is easily worked and will not split or crack when spikes are driven into it or with rapid drying. Demand is so great that Japan imports large quantities of logs and lumber from China, Taiwan, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Thailand.
"PB1465 Tree Crops for Marginal Farmland - Paulownia," The University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, 05-0012 PB1465-1M-1/05(Rev) E12-4915-00-005-05, http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_agexfores/3