WHAT IS PAULOWNIA

 

INTRODUCTION

Paulownia – also called the kiri tree, princess tree or empress tree is a fast growing, multipurpose hardwood tree (family Paulowniaceae, previously in the family Scrophylariaceae) comprised of nice species and a few natural hybrids that are native to China. The genus was named in honor of Queen Anna Pavlovna from The Netherlands (1795–1865), daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia.

 

Paulownia species are found growing naturally and under cultivated conditions in several parts of the world including China, Japan and Southeast Asia, Europe, north and central America, and Australia.

 

Due to their rapid growth and value in the timber market, many Paulownia species are cultivated in several temperate zones worldwide.

 

Economic importance of Paulownia is increasing as new uses and related products are developed. It is also suitable as a lignocellulosic feedstock crop for the bioethanol industry in the Southeastern USA.

 

A high demand for planting material in domestic and international markets for afforestation and bioenergy production has necessitated the development of efficient micropropagation protocols for rapid and mass propagation of Paulownia.

HISTORY

For decades, Japanese craftsmen have utilized it as revered wood in ceremonial furniture, musical instruments, decorative moldings, laminated structural beams and shipping containers. Paulownia timber was exported from China to Japan to produce handicrafts such as kotos (harps) and tansa (wedding chests). It is a custom in parts of Japan to plant a Paulownia tree when a girl is born so that the wood may be used to fashion her wedding chest.

 

The tree made its way to the United States during the mid- 1800 s in the form of seed, which was as packaging ma- terial for delicate porcelain dishes. Once unpacked, the tiny seeds were dispersed by wind and naturalized throughout the eastern states (El-Showk S. and El-Showk N., 2003).

DESIRABLE WOOD CHARACTERISTICS OF PAULOWNIA

Paulownia exhibits a number of desirable characteristics such as rot resistance, dimensional stability and a high ignition point,

which ensures the popularity of its timber in the world market.

  • Very light

    - “Aluminium wood” -about 2/3 the weight of the lightest commercial wood.

    - The specific gravity of the Paulownia wood ranges from 0.23 to 0.30

  • Strong & Stable

    - Strong and will not split even when spikes are driven into it.

    - Does not split, warp and crack with rapid drying.

  • Moisture resistant

    - Water cannot penetrate easily from the outer surfaces to inner area

  • Low thermal conductivity

    - Excellent insulation properties, can be used as a material in construction where the insulator is required.

  • Dry rapidly

    - Strong and will not split even when spikes are driven into it.

    - Does not split, warp and crack with rapid drying.

  • Low energy conductivity

    - Produce a type of air conditioning effect when used as building material

    - It is a potential fire door material as well

  • Easily worked

    - The wood is suitable for carving, wood-working, model airplane construction, peeling for veneer.

  • Aesthetic

    - The wood has an appealing grain pattern and is easily stained or painted.

  • Good sound conduction

    - Good resonance properties. Used to make sound boards of musical instruments.