Friday, July 25, 2008

A Convenient Truth

As a freelance content writer, I do get to cover some really interesting subjects. I do catalog descriptions for two mail-order nurseries. One of them had me write a newsletter on Paulownia elongata recently.

Now, I have to say that I have been aware of this tree for a very long time. I remember junk snail mail received some 20 years ago or more offering this tree at ridiculous low prices. I never thought it to be worth any thought or attention because the ads never showed a photo of a real tree. It was always some poorly rendered color drawing showing the thing covered with bright blue flowers. Totally unrealistic from the word go.

Several years ago, one of my favorite local customers was convinced he needed one of these Royal Princess trees. Since Rich and I had a mutually familiar rapport when he visited, I told him it was a bunch of bunk. Rich always called or popped in to ask my opinion on the latest miracle offer. Secretly I learned that he was not allowed to spend anymore money on these expensive hoaxes without first consulting my advice. So Rich never got his miraculous bright blue flowering tree. Its probably best, as it would not have survived some of those bitter Michigan winters out there in open farmland.

I was correct in my assumption that the artistic blue flowers were a lie. Yet I have discovered that not only are the flowers huge and beautiful in lavender for spring ... the tree is actually in possession of huge earth friendly benefits. It is hardy in zones 5-11 and a tree that should be planted in every community. The following facts and true and undeniably heavy on supporting the green movement.

It takes decades for hardwood shade trees to grow to a size that they give valuable relief from the sun's heat. Royal Princess trees attain such a size in less than 10 years. This by itself is a benefit worth it's weight in gold. Did you know that new homes without the benefit of mature trees to block out the sun and offer wind protection in the winter actually cost about 25% more for energy? Normal energy bills in older homes with large trees around it typically have that much of a reduction in power bills.

Paulownia elongata image published under GNU Free Documentation License

The huge leaves on the Royal Princess tree have proven to actually clean toxic pollutants and produce pure oxygen 10 time faster than any other tree. Like why is this lovely specimen not populating urban communities? It gets even better, the roots have been proven to filter all toxins from the soil they reside in. The tree grows very rapidly and offers impressive erosion control which dramatically cuts down on loss of invaluable topsoil.

The Paulownia tree produces knot free lumber in a span of 3 to 4 years. It is a light colored hardwood that is very in demand for furniture in Japan and is stronger than Basswood. Get this - it is the most sustainable tree on the planet for lumber and paper pulp. Once the tree is harvested, instead of a dead stump remaining, it actually rapidly reproduces a new trunk from the same roots. Can you grasp the meaning of this?

Paper and lumber industries have stripped millions of acres of mature forests from the face of our planet, leaving huge vacancies in the natural system that kept Earth temperatures cooler and our air more rapidly filtered. Developers of cities and suburbia leveled forested areas of vast dimensions. Urban metropolises are even more damaging from mass expansions of concrete and asphalt, buildings and concentrations of humans and vehicles making the heat index soar. Yet if these vast stripped areas around the globe were replanted with Royal Princess trees, they would repair the damage and provide a rapidly renewable source of materials we consume at such rapid rates.

The Paulownia elongata though valuable for it regal beauty, scented blooms and its attraction of flocks of birds and butterflies is the boon of so many benefits that are not yet widely known. It is easy to grow,drought tolerant as well as highly adaptable to soil types and climate differences. The leaves provide super nutrient rich compost too. All in all, the Royal Princess tree is a very convenient truth that should be put to use as a very green living element for sustainable living and an aid to the earth's environment.


Phillip said...

Very interesting post - and I thought it was just a junk tree! I used to have one of these that, believe it or not, came from underneath our house and out through a grate in the foundation. By the end of the summer, it was as tall as our two-story house. I had to get rid of it because of the location. I don't seem to see as many of them around town as I used to.

G.G. said...

Hey Phillip...
I thought it was a junk tree for years until the nursery I write for sent me the task of writing that newsletter. The lumber is reported to bring a very handsome price marketed to the furniture industry. Probably would make an excellent export opportunity. Do a Google search on Paulownia and read the sites. There is even more to know than what I included in this post. Nice to see you again!

Lucy said...

Yes, I was wondering what the 'catch' might be - why it isn't more widely known and grown.

Can it be too rampant, too overwhelming, its roots a trial?


G.G. said...

Hello Lucy...
I don't know that there is a catch besides the early marketing artwork being so very tacky. I had to do a comparison article between the Austree (which is horrid and predatorial) and the Paulownia. There is one reference to it spreading by seed, but if that were truly bad we would not plant Maples!

A woman in Africa won the Nobel Peace Prize because she restored decimated lands and the culture of an entire country by starting the planting of the Paulownia tree. I'm sorry I cannot remember her name right now. The nursery I write for sends one Paulownia tree to Africa for every tree they sell through their catalog.

You can read more at these links:
Paulownia World Institute
Dragon Trees
Paulownia Trees, Inc
Paulownia Supply of America
You will find more references, just type "Paulownia elongata" into your browser and research away. It is very interesting and enlightening.