Paulownia: A Tree Of Many Talents
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A Tree Of Many Talents

Whoever coined the phrase “Money doesn’t grow on trees” clearly wasn’t talking about investing in Paulownia trees.

From their extremely fast growth to their strong yet lightweight wood, they are truly a one-of-a-kind species worth learning about. 

A Wood Fit For Royalty

Chinese records from over 2,600 years ago describe Paulownia wood being used to craft the coffin that King Yui was buried in. Not only was the wood fit to bury royalty, but Paulownia trees were seen as good luck symbols in Chinese gardens for centuries. In more recent years, the Paulownia tree has grown in popularity all around the world and is best known for its extremely fast growth and its beautiful, versatile wood. 

An Overachiever

Paulownia saplings grow extremely quickly and their wood increases in density and value as they mature. Did you know that the plywood from only a 7-year-old Paulownia tree is comparable to plywood from a 40-50-year-old Poplar tree? Paulownia trees are ready for harvest in only 8-15 years and can produce up to 0,75 of a cubic meter when they are mature! Currently, around 1m3 of timber sells for around 300-600 euros, depending on the quality of the wood and the age at which it is harvested. For trees planted on Smart Forest partner plantations, we estimate that one tree will produce around 0,25 m3 after 8 years. At a selling price of around 300 euros per cubic meter, the expected return would be at least 75 euros per tree, if not more. Not only do Paulownia trees grow quickly, but they are also extremely adaptable to different climates and humidity levels. They even contain a low amount of oil and resin making them resistant to most pests and diseases- talk about an overachiever! 

A Sustainable Sapling

If you have ever searched online for information on Paulownia trees, then you have probably seen many articles describing the species as horribly invasive and uncontrollable. This is true- but only when it comes to wild Paulownia trees. Paulownia saplings on plantations are actually hybrid species, meaning it is nearly impossible for them to reproduce and spread their seeds. Plantation saplings grow only where they are planted and can actually regenerate from the same root up to seven times! I know what you’re thinking- that sounds too good to be true. When Paulownia trees are harvested, their roots are preserved and new saplings can grow from the same root. The same land can be used over and over after the trees are harvested, making them the perfect sustainable plantation tree! 

A Multipurpose Wood

The incredible versatility of Paulownia wood is not surprising given its rare combination of ideal characteristics. The lightweight yet strong and decay-resistant wood is great for constructing roof beams, doors, windows, ceilings, and inner roofs. In fact, 100-year-old beams crafted from Paulownia wood in the Scezhuan Temple in China are still in good condition! Paulownia wood is light in colour, is virtually knot-free, has beautiful grain, and accepts paint stains easily, making it a favourite material for the production of furniture such as chairs, tables, and chests. But there’s more! Paulownia wood also does not deform or warp in high humidity and does not crack when it is nailed into, which is why the Chinese have been using Paulownia wood for years to construct sturdy musical instruments that will keep their shape. Paulownia wood pulp used for making paper products of all kinds is also known to be especially strong. 

A Natural Cure

The Chinese have found medicine made from the leaves and seed pods of Paulownia trees effective in treating bronchitis by reducing cough and phlegm. A solution made from the leaves and wood of Paulownia trees can help reduce foot swelling and a mixture containing the tree’s ground-up seed pods has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Dissolved Paulownia leaves and fruit can even help hair health. The tree’s leaves are also high in fat and sugar and are used as a nutritious ingredient in animal feed. 

A Renewable Energy Source

Yes, the wood from Paulownia trees can even be used as a sustainable source of energy, better known as biomass energy! Is there anything this species can’t do? We’ll let you answer that, but first, let’s talk biomass. The use of wood (or other plant/ animal matter) to create energy is referred to as biomass. A renewable source of energy, biomass is much more sustainable and less polluting than burning our limited supply of fossil fuels. 60% of biomass energy comes from wood, and Paulownia trees have been found to be much more effective at producing wood pellets that are burned to create energy when compared to other trees such as Willow or Poplar. 2 kilograms of biomass fuel is equal to about one litre of diesel fuel, so using biomass in place of diesel could reduce energy costs by 50%! As our world shifts towards a reliance on renewable sources of energy, wood pellets for biomass energy will likely be more in demand than ever before. 

An Environmental Hero

The issue of climate change and too much carbon dioxide in our air affecting our environment and health is nothing new. But did you know that through the process of photosynthesis trees can actually absorb carbon dioxide and use it to make their own food? They even release clean oxygen into the air for us to breathe! Paulownia trees are actually known for being one of the highest carbon-absorbing species in the world. They have been found to absorb up to ten times more carbon than other trees, meaning they are helping clean our air ten times more! Their large, hairy leaves are also great for catching dust and smoke in the air. Not only do they purify the air, but Paulownia trees also help purify the soil! According to the World Institute for Paulownia, the species takes away nitrates, heavy metals, and other pollutants from the soil extremely well. The trees have both shallow and deep roots that can extract pollutants from many different layers of the soil and help prevent dangerous soil erosion! 

A Collaborative Grower

You might be thinking, how exactly are Paulownia trees collaborative? Well, they are commonly used in intercropping efforts and can actually benefit other plant species around them. Studies have shown that planting Paulownia trees with crops such as wheat can actually increase their harvest yields and improve overall soil quality. Paulownia leaves are extremely nutrient-rich and create nourishing compost when they fall and decompose in the soil. The species also has roots much deeper than the other plants around them, so they absorb water from deep groundwater sources instead of competing with smaller, more surface-level plant species. Not only do Paulownia trees fertilize the soil for nearby crops, but they also help cool the air and retain moisture! They are an intercropping wonder and can help fix contaminated soil so that other crops can thrive.  

An Investment Gem

Paulownia trees are amazingly fast-growing, disease and pest-resistant, and their wood is extremely versatile, making them the perfect tree for investment! With Smart Forest, it is easier than ever before to invest in Paulownia trees, whether you are an entirely new investor or an experienced one. Smart Forest is a virtual marketplace that allows you to purchase Paulownia saplings planted on partner plantations and sell them when they are mature and ready to harvest for lumber! You never have to pay more than your initial investment, and can track how fast your trees are growing and how much carbon dioxide they have absorbed!

For more information visit and begin your exciting (and sustainable) investment journey today!