Friday, 31 May 2013

Paulownia, NOT Catalpa. Part 2.


                               

Having learned that my Catalpa trees were NOT Catalpa trees, but Paulownia trees, I had to find out what qualities they possessed.

It seems that Paulownias are slowly becoming an extremely important world timber crop. They are one of the fastest growing trees; up to 20 ft per annum. They can be harvested in as little as 5 years. And they naturally regenerate from the sawn stump.

The timber is used for various purposes. Soundboards of stringed instruments, surfboards, clogs, and chests, are amongst the most popular.

Traditionally, in Japan, they were planted when a girl was born, and the timber used to make a dresser for when she married; a bit like the planting of roadside Poplars here in France which were cut down to pay for a daughter's wedding.

Another interesting aspect of the Paulownia is its financial value as a crop. It is claimed (in a USA video that I watched) that a 6 year old tree sells for between 6,000 and 10,000 dollars. CAN THAT POSSIBLY BE RIGHT? I think he might have his figures slightly wrong, otherwise every farmer in the world would stop growing food in exchange for Paulownia!

Another USA source tells me that the timber fetches 800 dollars per cubic meter (I buy my oak for €40 per cubic meter). A simple calculation reveals that for a tree to sell for 10,000 dollars, it would need to contain over 12 cubic meters of good usable timber. That sounds like a helluva lot to me!

I shall wait a while before I plant up our entire property with Paulownias; I can envisage a slight fall in the market.


This Paulownia example (above) is in my village, right opposite the church, and is probably the source of the seeds that were later deposited by birds in the woods where I found my saplings. 

I had a close look at it when I took the photo yesterday, and I noticed that it has a LOT of dead branches. I do hope this is not usual, as I hate dead branches on trees!



13 comments:

  1. you've done your research, Cro. I had no idea about this tree. Never mind the income one could derive, it's just plain beautiful.

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  2. We first heard about the tree when we lived on 13 acres and all the hype about the value of a grown tree was explained. We were encouraged to plant the 13 acres with these trees and a couple of neighbours did plant quite a few but although they do grow fast I don't think anybody made a fortune out of them. I think they need management to keep them the tall, straight tree needed for harvested timber - ie planted in rows close together.
    I did notice quite a few growing individually in Provence- very pretty flowers and a scent too I think and all purple ones . None of them were huge - say 15-20 ft - so were probably quite young trees. Nowhere near as lovely as Jacarandas but, as Jacarandas are native to Brazil, I don't know whether they would grow in France.
    (http://helsieshappenings.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/its-that-time-again.html
    PS. I found the image you used in the last post under Jacarandas in my Google search so there could be some inaccuracy. They do have quite a different shape though.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for that info, Helsie. I'm sure that some of the 'profit' figures quoted were exaggerated.

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    2. re: 'It's that time again', I'd love to have some Jacarandas here, but because there aren't any around locally, I imagine our climate is not quite right.

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  3. or, "Catapulta" as my Mum insists on calling them!

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    Replies
    1. I like that; it reminds me of my father!

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    2. I can't bear to tell you what she calls Gunnera...

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  4. What a pretty village you live in Cro - I would love to see more pictures of it. How about a post devoted to it

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    1. Weaver, if you type My Dinky Village into the white strip, top left, you should find a short tour of the village. We are really a 'commune' with just a few building around the church itself, and all other homes liberally spread about.

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  5. They are beautiful trees but notorious for die back so keep your pruners handy.

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  6. Wow, gorgeous trees! I had never heard of them before I read this post.

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  7. These trees are invasive, displacing native populations. See-- http://www.ecosystemgardening.com/paulownia-princess-tree-on-most-hated-plants-list.html and http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/pato1.htm

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