[permaculture] Re: paulownias

Kevin Topek ktopek at houston.rr.com
Fri Dec 5 11:23:50 EST 2003

Dear Karen and Mike,

Dang y'all, I'm definitely not an expert on this subject. They survive in
Zones 6, -23C, -10F to zone 11above 4C, 40F as lows and 49C, 120F as a high.
They also appear to survive in Brooklyn, New York. http://www.paulownia.com/
is a commercial grower with a lot of information on the web site, also
http://www.paulownia.org/. It is grown in eastern North Carolina to mitigate
hog waste damage to the water tables, but after talking to growers there, it
was more for the commercial potential of the wood, not the efficacy of the
species in removing nitrates from the groundwater. It looks like Australia
is leading the way in plantation research.

I think the trees would do well in Jamaica upland from the beach, but no
more than 2200 feet in elevation, as recommended by the commercial growers.
The Piedmont of NC is hilly with red clay and the same for the NC coastal
plains. They grew in that clay just fine, but are not recommended for heavy
clay placement. They can grow up to 20'/year and are meant to be coppiced at
the ground and regrown from the roots after harvest of the straight trunk
wood. They have a weedy habit - fast and straight trunk growth, large leaves
and lots of showy flowers in the warm spring. They remind me of the Catalpa
(Cigar) tree.

The good old boys I met in eastern NC several years ago seemed very excited
about the potential for the tree as a sustainable commercial crop. We were
all investigating methods of hog waste treatment and this was an option for
contaminated groundwater areas and the surface application of liquid or
dewatered hog waste solids. There is such a desperate need for anything
there other than anaerobic waste lagoons that breach with every heavy rain
and contaminate the entire downstream watershed. It is a REAL problem that
is still not being managed adequately at all!

It looks like a promising commercial crop, but is still monocropped in
westernized settings. The Chinese used them as intercropped windbreaks
especially with cereal grains and as shade. The Japanese harvested them to
extinction, WOW! The wood looks like ash or poplar and feels silky. I have
not found any to work with easily available at hardware stores in Texas, but
may consider locating some for my next interior finishing job. Anyone
growing it? I'm just trying to keep my bananas and papayas from freezing too
hard this winter.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Karen Kellogg" <garuda2 at comcast.net>
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 9:02 PM
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Re: paulownias

> Kevin--
>      what zones, ie, how cold can the Paulownias survive??
>                                thanks, karen
> On Thursday, December 4, 2003, at 09:56 PM, Kevin Topek wrote:
> > As far as I know and have researched, Paulownias are not nitrogen
> > fixers.
> > They do not have any leguminous properties and I can find no reference
> > to a
> > symbiotic bacterial relationship (nitrogen fixation). It appears they
> > are
> > being touted worldwide as a rapidly growing hardwood. I found them to
> > be
> > charming weeds.
> >
> > Kevin
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