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Short-rotation plantations for wood biomass production are systems in which different, fast-growing forest species are grown in intensive agricultural technologies to achieve high biomass yields. The genus paulownia comprises very fast-growing tree species, mainly used in biomass production for energy purposes, but not only. The biomass produced by this plant is used in its entirety; as heating material, industrial, ecological and decorative wood, protection of soil erosion, phytoremediation of polluted soils, air purification, animal feed, pharmaceutical industry, melifer, etc. Among the most promising applications are the production of biopolymers and bioethanol derived from cellulose. The proper cultivation and use of paulownia species contribute to maintaining ecological balance and nature conservation. The main objective of the paper was to carry out a careful and detailed analysis of the specific scientific literature describing their main characteristics and practical applicability to the different species of the genus Paulownia. The paper also examines the importance of cultivating paulownia species under conditions of economic viability while ensuring the maintenance of biodiversity and the protection of ecosystems.
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Life Science and Sustainable Development
LSSD, Vol. 2, Nr. 1, 2021
Marian COSTEA, Marcel DANCI, Sorin CIULCA, Radu SUMALAN,
Banat’s University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine ”King Michael I st of Romania” from Timisoara,
Faculty of Horticulture and Forestry
Corresponding author: Radu SUMALAN (
Abstract. Short-rotation plantations for wood biomass production are systems in which different, fast-growing
forest species are grown in intensive agricultural technologies to achieve high biomass yields. The genus
paulownia comprises very fast-growing tree species, mainly used in biomass production for energy purposes, but
not only. The biomass produced by this plant is used in its entirety; as heating material, industrial, ecological
and decorative wood, protection of soil erosion, phytoremediation of polluted soils, air purification, animal feed,
pharmaceutical industry, melifer, etc. Among the most promising applications are the production of biopolymers
and bioethanol derived from cellulose. The proper cultivation and use of paulownia species contribute to
maintaining ecological balance and nature conservation. The main objective of the paper was to carry out a
careful and detailed analysis of the specific scientific literature describing their main characteristics and
practical applicability to the different species of the genus Paulownia. The paper also examines the importance
of cultivating paulownia species under conditions of economic viability while ensuring the maintenance of
biodiversity and the protection of ecosystems.
Keywords: multipurpose specie; biomass production; fast growth; environmental requirements; cultivation technology;
Paulownia is a deciduous tree capable of reaching very high growth rates in favorable climatic
conditions and advanced technology. The genus Paulownia (Scrophulariaceae) includes nine species of fast-
growing trees native to China and East Asia (ZHU et al., 1986). These species have also been introduced to
North America, Australia, Europe and Japan. Paulownia could be considered a plant with low moisture claims,
even if the growth rate is very slow in dry areas (CAPARROS et al., 2008). Paulownia tomentosa Steud.
(Scrophulariaceae) is an ornamental tree widely found in China, Korea and Japan. The special characteristics of
this species manifested by wood tolerance to rot, dimensional stability and a very high flash point ensure the
popularity of this type of woody mass on the world market (BERGMANN, 1998; SILVESTRE et al., 2005).
Thus, paulownia is a fast-growing hardwood tree (from the Paulowniaceae family, formerly
Scrophulariaceae) consisting of nine species and several natural hybrids, native to China (FREEMAN, 2012).
The most important species of the genus are represented by; P. elongata, P. tomentosa, P. fortunei, P. fargersii
albiphloea, P. kawakamii, P. catalpifolia and P. australis (ZHU, 1986). These species of paulownia grow in
nature and cultivated in different regions of the world from China, Asia of Southeast, Japan and Australia to
North and Central America and Europe. Paulownia genus species are well adapted for a large variation of the
economic and climatic factors growing well on marginal and erodated lands, with low productive potential for
other species of agricultural or forestry interest. Paulownia plants grow at different altitudes, from the plains up
to 2000 meters (ZHU, 1986).
Most species of paulownia have as their genetic origin center in China, being used for various purposes
for over 2600 years. The genus name was attributed in honour of Queen Anna Pavlovna of the Netherlands
(1795-1865) by a german botanist who was helped by the queen to finance her expedition to Southeast Asia
(WOODS, 2008). Following the expedition, the book "Flora Japonica" was published in which the various
species of paulownia are detailed described, and the multiple attributes and uses of the trees are also presented.
The name paulownia was then accepted and appreciated by the Japanese.
Research carried out by ZHAO-HUA et al., (1986) attests to the existence of nine important species of
the genus Paulownia, all of which originated in the genetic center of East Asia. The various species of
paulownia, but especially P. tomentosa, have been cultivated as ornamental plants in Europe since the beginning
of the 19 th century, but their commercial value has only been discovered in recent decades.
The genus Paulownia is unique in the plant kingdom due to the rapid rate of accumulation of wood
biomass and multiple areas of use, with historical documents attesting to its use as early as 2600 BC
The research results carried out by JENSEN (2016) show that the interspecific species and hybrids of
paulownia could successfully represent an agro-forestry commercial culture in north-west, central and south-
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eastern Europe. The multiplication of paulownia species can be relatively simply done by roots and stem cutting,
seeds and "in vitro" techniques. Commercial hibrids of paulownia obtained through intra and inter-specific cross
breeding strips exhibit a high yield of biomass accumulation, superior qualities of wood mass and tolerance to
biotic and abiotic stressors, which can be purchased from different nurseries around the world. WENHUA
(2001) noted that interspecific hybrids with excellent attributes were obtained; Paulownia fortunei x Paulownia
tomentosa which offers a higher volume of wood by up to 30% compared to Paulownia elongata and arealso
suitable in intercropping technologies.
In recent years, there has been an enormous increase in demand for biomass raw materials for
renewable energy production, due to the obligation to reduce the role of fossil fuels and the related
environmental impact (WELFLE et al., 2020). Romania, together with other European countries, is trying to
reduce the consumption of fossil fuels in order to reduce environmental pollution, including through land
afforestation programmes by cultivating species and interspecific hybrids of paulownia.
Pulownia trees have multipurpose uses, so the objectives of setting up a plantation are not only linked
by the production of wood biomass, but also the regeneration of degraded soils, the use of manure or the
production of pulp wood for paper (OLSON and CARPENTER, 1985). Paulownia is a suitable tree for intensive
management in short-rotation hardwood plantations, due to its rapid growth, ability to regenerate from the stump
and the multiple varieties through which the wood and its fibres can be used. After harvesting paulownia should
not be replanted because it regenerates by starting in vegetation the buds on the stumps. The paulownia wood has
several quality attributes such as; moisture resistance, rigidity, pleasant colour, good resonance, reduced mass,
rapid drying, etc., which increases its value (CLATTERBUCK and HODGES, 2004).
The widespread use of paulownia wood in the construction sector has occurred mainly due to successive
price increases in balsa wood (Ochroma pyramidale) which was used in sandwich structures in the construction
of automotive, ships, aircraft or wind energy (LI et al., 2010).
Studs carried out over time have demonstrated the value of this species by showing that an 8-10 year
old paulownia plant can produce 100 kg of fresh leaves per year with a high nutritional value for ruminants,
pigs and rabbits (BODNÁR et al., 2014; WANG and SHOGREN, 1992; ZHAO-HUA et al, 1986), which can
serve as natural soil fertilizers due to high nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content (WANG and SHOGREN,
Therefore, the carried out researches has shown that paulownia is an extremely versatile plant, which
has attracted particular interest due to various properties such as; high resistance against adverse pedo-climatic
conditions (Chinese Academy of Forestry, 1986); rapid growth rate as well as high yield in short rotation
(AYRILMIS and KAYMAKCI, 2013); a substantial fibre content for paper production (ASHORI and
NOURBAKHSH, 2009); beneficial uses for medicinal purposes, (healing bronchitis, lowering cough and
controlling high blood pressure) (Chinese Academy of Forestry, 1986); sequestration of high carbon emissions
(BASU et al., 2016) and, most importantly, great energy potential. Thus, paulownia is recognised as a promising
renewable raw material for the production of biofuels. In this regard, a critical question arises as to how to find
suitable locations for the cultivation of the plant.
The research was mainly based on the theoretical analysis of the bibliographic sources existing in the
mainstream of publications being accompanied by the experiences and results of own research. The existing
theoretical and practical knowledge of the literature and its role in designing viable business models specific to
this subject were analysed.
General description of paulownia plant
Paulownia genus is part of the Paulowniaceae family and have over 20 plant species (20-25 species
according to different authors) with similar attributes and uses given the general name of paulownia. The species
identified so far are; Paulownia tomentosa, P. elongata, P. fortunei, P. australis, P. catalpifolia, P. fargersii, P.
silvestris, P. coreana, P. duducoxii, P. wealth, P. albiphloea, P. glabra, P. grandifolia, P. imperialis, P.
kawakamii, P. lilacina, P. longifolia, P. meridionalis, P. mikado, P. recurva, P. rehderiana, P. sinesis, P.
taiwaniana, P. thyrsoidea, P. viscosae.
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Paulownia is a C4 photosynthetic type woody tree with large, pubescent leaves (fig.1) of about 60-70 cm
diam. and flowers of different colors from white to intense purple, with strong and pleasant smell, with the
diameter of the corolla of 4-6 cm. Depending on the environmental conditions and the applied technology, the
trees can reach up to 30 meters high, with a trunk 1 m diameter. Soil requirements are moderate, increases on
any soil type, even on dry soils with alkaline reaction. However, the best growth rates will be achieved on deep
soils, with medium moisture levels, drained and aerate, generally clay soils with high levels of fertility.
Paulownia is a heliophile species and therefore prefers open and sunny areas.
Figure 1. Paulownia Shan tong (tomentosa x fortunei) year 1 in nursery (original)
Root system
Paulownia is a tree with a deep root system that explores a huge volume of soil. The roots of the surface
layer of the soil are thin, strongly branched, forming a dense network. Absorption roots have a diameter of about
1-7 mm and can extend up to 70-90 cm. The growth and dispersion in the soil of the root system is significantly
influenced by the level of groundwater, the physico-chemical characteristics of the soil. Paulownia is best suited
for easy mechanical soil composition with good drainage.
The deep distribution of the roots of a mature paulownia tree can reach up to 30 m, with a diameter of
about 28 m, i.e. about 3 times larger than the canopy. Around 70-80% of the roots with absorption role are
located on the depth of 40-100 cm in the soil profile.
Trunk and bark
In general, paulownia species can be grown in a monoax system, i.e. on a single trunk, in which case
work is carried out to elag the stem over a length of 4,5 m from the base, or on multiple stems, usually after the
first two harvest cycles. The diameter of the trunk of a tree of 1.5-2 years is generally between 7 and 14 cm, a
3-4 year old specimen is 20-30 cm, and an mature tree of 15 years is up to 60 cm.
The bark is thin, light gray, smooth, slightly cracked in mature specimens.
The foliar apparatus
In the first year, paulownia saplings present a large, pubescent leaves, 40-80 cm in diameter (fig.1). The
leaves are cordiform or ovated with round edges, of intense green color due to the high content of assimilating
pigments, with the lamina structure specific to plants of type photosynthetic C4 characterized by the presence of
perivascular sheath cells as essential elements of photosynthesis. The color of the leaves does not change in
autumn. The leaves fall when they're green, then they dry out.
The flower
The flowers are large, blue-violet, lilac or almost white and are grouped in large apical panics with
strong fragrance (figure 2). Paulownia species exhibit alternating flowering and fruiting, with seasons that
manifest themselves through flowering and abundant fruiting and others with few flowers. Species of paulownia
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of ornamental interest have a greater capacity to produce flowers compared to those of economic interest or with
interspecific hybrids
Late spring (April-May) takes place in the flowering period and lasts 4-6 weeks, making this tree an
ideal material for greening cities and promenade areas.
Figure 2. The inflorescence in Paulownia tomentosa (original)
The fruits and seeds
Fruits are long, lignified and rigid capsules with dimensions between 10 and 30 mm. The seeds are
small, light, butterfly-shaped, 2 to 5 mm long, membranes, fitted with bractes (figure 3).
Paulownia produces numerous fine seeds with wings (up to 2000 seeds per fruit), one gram containing
about 5000 seeds (JIMENEZ et al., 2005). Scanning seeds through electronic microscopy show the existence of
an extended network of fine tubes that can play an important role in maintaining the structural integrity of the
wing to help disperse with wind and to create water access channels to stimulate germination. Studies on the
development of seedlings after germination show that a photoperiod of 16 hours is optimal for leaf generation,
growth of stems and roots and total accumulation of dry mass (CARPENTER et al. 1983).
The seeds germinate in optimal conditions in less than 7 days, and the appearance of the first true leaves
occurs about two weeks after germination. Paulownia seeds are rich in lipids represented by palmitic acid
(approximately 7 %), oleic (approx. 20 %) and linoleic (approximately 65 %), γ-tocopherol (approx. 10.0 %).
The seeds also contain about 10 % protein, 9 % cellulose and 40 % soluble sugars (ANGELOVA et al., 2011).
Figure 3. Paulownia tomentosa seeds and fruit section (original)
Growth rate:
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The high intensity of increases in paulownia is recorded in the first 4-6 years after planting and
receiving, and with age the rate of growth is reduced
Table 1
Comparative study on the growth rate of the paulownia genus compared to other genera used for wood biomass
Height annual growth
(m) in the first 5 years
Plant size after 3 years
Maximum height at
maturity (m)
Diameter of the trunk,
annual growth rate (cm)
Paulownia spp.
Populus nigra/ deltoides
Salix spp.
Quercus spp.
Processed after JANJIĆ and JANJIĆ 2019.
Paulownia presents as I pointed out a series of attributes related to water wood resistance, dimensional
stability and high flash point (LI and ODA, 2007), attributes that ensure the popularity of its wood on the world
market (BERGMANN and WHETTEN 1998; EL SOUWK and EL SOUWK 2003). For centuries, Japanese
craftsmen have used it as revered wood in ceremonial furniture, musical instruments, decorative moldings,
laminated structural beams and shipping containers. This species was introduced to the United States in the mid-
1800s in the form of seeds, used as a material associated with porcelain packaging. Once unpacked, small and
light seeds were dispersed by the wind and naturalized in all eastern American states. The cultivation of
paulownia species for wood mass production is not yet very well organized but tends to become increasingly
important both on the North American continent and in other areas, especially due to the high demand on the
Paulownia as multifunctional tree
Under natural conditions, a 10-year-old paulownia tree measures 30 to 40 cm in diameter at 1.30 m and
contains a wood volume of 0.3 to 0.5 m3 (ZHU et al., 1986). The wood of paulovnia is light but hard, dries quite
quickly and has a pleasant aesthetic appearance of light color like grain seeds, does not deform and does not
break easily. In addition, wood is easy to process, suitable for carving and has excellent insulation properties
(ZHU et al., 1986). Several species have been planted extensively in Australia to meet the demand for wood
(BEEL et al., 2005). Due to the rapid growth and high cellulose content (440 g. cellulose/kg), studies have been
carried out to determine whether it is suitable for the cellulose and solid biofuel and cellulose industries (LOPEZ
et al., 2012).
The thin branches of paulownia are successfully used to create biodegradable lignocellulosic
biocomposite with Poly Lactic Acid (PLA), thus introducing a new product on the market (TISSERAT, 2013). A
recent study showed that P. elongata wood flour could be used in the production of stuffed polypropylene
composites (TISSERAT et al., 2013). Paulownia flowers and leaves are a good source of lipids, carbohydrates
and proteins, and used as feed for pigs, sheep and rabbits (ZHU et al., 1986). The high nitrogen content of
paulownia leaves can be compared to that of a leguminous, therefore they can be used as green fertilizer. Due to
the active principles contained by different organs of paulownia plants they are used in the treatment of diseases
by traditional chinese medicine (ZHU, 1986). Paulownia blooms are large size and represent good melifer source
(ZHU, 1986). Paulownia was capitalised for agro-forestry (KAYMAKCI and AYRILMIS 2013, WANG and
SOGREN, 1992), biomass production (RIANG et al., 1994), degraded and polluted land improvement (SONG
1988) and animal waste remediation (CARPENTER, 1977).
Biomas production
Recent research has shown that the resources of wood biomass are large enough to cover a substantial
part of the world's primary energy consumption in 2050. However, these resources have multiple uses and their
accessibility is limited, which tends to decrease their competitiveness compared to other forms of energy
(LAURI et al.2014; MADEJÓN et al., 2016).
In the southeastern United States of America there were over 12 million hectares of forest, grassland
and degraded land. Much of this land could potentially be used to be cultivated with valuable tree species
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paulownia being one of these species (BERGMANN et al., 1977). Due to rapid growth and valuable attributes,
its potential as a basic crop for biofuel has been detailed studied (CLATERRBUCK and HODGES 2004,
JOWEE 2012). A major advantage of using biomass as a source of fuels or chemicals is its rapid renewal. Wood
from modified forest trees for high cellulose and hemicellulose production could be an important raw material
for the production of bioethanol. In a biomass comparison study conducted in Germany, P. tomentosa (12.7
tonnes/ha) produced more than Salix viminalis (8.2 tonnes/ha) on a short rotation asolament under non-irrigated
conditions (MAYER, 2004).
An assessment of the qualities of paulownia wood showed a composition in 14.0% extractive
substances, 50.55% cellulose, 21.36% lignin, 0.49% ash, 13.6% hemicellulose (JOWEEE 2012). Ongoing
research at Fort Valley State University (FVSU) has established that the biomass harvested by Paulownia
elongata after 30 months (after three growing seasons) is nearly 92 kg/tree (unpublished results). Under
favourable conditions, an intensive plantation of 2000 plants per ha can produce up to 150 to 300 tonnes of wood
annually, only 5 to 7 years after planting (JIMENEZ et al., 2005). However, further studies are needed to
demonstrate the potential of biomass in different soil and climate types.
Main aspects of cultivation technology
Influence of environmental factors on growth and development in Paulownia sp.
Temperature requirements
Paulownia plants tolerate a fairly wide range of temperatures with a minimum limit of around -25 oC
and a maximum of about 47 oC. The optimum temperature is 25-27 oC. Within the genus, Paulownia elongata
resists low temperatures up to -25 oC, P. tomentosa to -20 oC while P. fortunei -15 oC. All species are susceptible
to late spring frost after starting in vegetation affecting vegetative and florifers buds.
Soil requirements
Plants of Paulownia sp.are not pretentious to the edafic factor and can provide good results on sandy
and clay soils as well as heavy soils. However, there are some differences in the clay content of the soil, its pH
and the groundwater level. The clay content of the soils on which different species of paulownia grow varies
greatly. Arctic paulownia and paulownia Shang Tong (hybrid intersepcific between P. tomentosa and P.
fortunei) grow well onsoils characterized by a clay content ranging from 16.25% to 23.49%, while plants
belonging to other species of the genus vegetate on soils characterized by a clay content of less than 10%
(Chinese Academy, 1999).
Most of the species of paulownia exhibit a deep and strongly branched root system. The growth and
expansion of the root system requires not only adequate water and temperature conditions, but also well-
ventilated soils. Paulownia sp. requires a total soil porosity of more than 50%. As regards soils containing excess
clay, the species with the best behaviour under these conditions are Paulownia fortunei and Paulownia
tomentosa (RADU et al., 1977). Paulownia trees are sensitive to both groundwater depth and soil salinity. In
general, the depth of groundwater should not be above 1.5 meters, a period of water stagnation greater than 3-4
days may prove lethal for plants.
Soil salinity of more than 1% significantly affects plant growth. Soil pH value and salinity tolerance
vary by species, as follows; Paulownia elongata and Paulownia tomentosa vegetate well on soils with pH
between 5.0 and 8.9 and Paulownia fargesii, Paulownia albiphloea on soils with pH between 5.6 and 6.0. Plants
of the species P. fortunei can reach an average growth threshold in diameter of 3.6 centimeters and 4.2
centimeters on slightly acidic soils, and also on soils with a pH content of more than 8.0, and P. elongata and
tomentosa show good growth on an even greater variety of soils. Paulownia trees can take selectively the ions of
calcium and magnesium from the soil.
Fertilizer requirements
Soil analyses are intended to provide certainty about the level of soil supply of nutrients, at least with
the main macronutrients; nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium calcium and magnesium, as well as the current pH
value. If the first imbalances are already recorded, they must be remedied by appropriate fertilisation measures.
During the growth of paulownia plants attention should be paid to an appropriate supply of nitrogen and
potassium, with particular attention to potassium containing fertilisers wich may contain chlorine, as they may
induce negative effects on plants. Especially in the first years the plants need many nutrients and in high
quantities to be able to develop properly. This leads to the need to optimize plant nutrition.
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Moisture requirements
In general, paulownia plants grow under conditions with a minimum annual rainfall of 500 mm and a
maximum of 3000 mm. The distribution of precipitation is also important, some studies mention that Paulownia
sp. normally develops in the context that 65% of annual rainfall falls during the period of intense plant growth
(June-August for Romania). Paulownia requires regular watering only for the first two years. Water consumption
on a brood is 30-40 l 1-2 times a week. After the development of the root system (third year), the needs for
special watering are reduced.
The most drought-tolerant species are P. tomentosa, followed by a reduction in tolerance to P. elongata,
P. kawakami, P. fortunei and P. catalpifolia. The water excess of soils is also dangerous, tests carried out in the
Danube Delta by RADU et al. (1977) indicate that saplings grown on land characterized by excessive soil
moisture until June-July have completely disappeared from the first year.
Light requirements
Paulownia is a light-loving tree. Studies on species of P. elongata and P. taiwanese showed that the
point of saturation to light is 60,000 lux (60% of the light of a clear day), while for most other tree species the
saturation point is around 20,000-30,000 lux (20-30% of total sunlight). P. fortunei and P. fargesii have the
highest tolerance to shading. In general, the plants of the genus Paulownia produce distinct dispersed branches
and leaves, allowing the passage of light. A slight difference in light intensity on one lateral side may cause
distortion of the shape of the shaft canopy. According to experiments carried out on Paulownia sp. saplings, a
reduction of 30 % in light intensity can seriously affect plants, which confirms the preference of this species for
intense light. Therefore, intercropping cultivation with other fast-growing trees and the presence of taller
specimens nearby are not recommended.
Influence of strong winds and snow
Strong winds can cause total or partial destruction of saplings and young trees, while it does not appear
to affect mature trees. At wind speeds of more than 40 km/h, shoots and branches can be broken. However, in
any case, it is not recommended to plant paulownia in areas with strong winds with speeds of more than 30-40
km/h. Also, large amounts of snow falling in a short period of time can cause thinner branches to break.
Pests and pollution.
Paulownia wood accumulates tannin which makes it tolerant to the attack of harmful insects.
Paulownia feels good in urban conditions, with air and soil pollution conditions. Due to the high ecological
plasticity this plant can be successfully grown on both heavy metal-polluted and low-fertility soils unsuitable for
other crops.
Regeneration of a tree
The uniqueness of paulownia lies in the fact that after exploitation the tree does not need re-planting.
After each cut, the tree regenerates from the vegetative buds located at the base of stems. The life of the root
system is 70-100 years and can be used efficiently between 4 and 9 cycles of eight years, which offers the
possibility to resume the production process without new planting costs. The trunk can be cut at any time of the
year, despite the season and short harvesting periods, which is not the case with other tree species.
Paulownia is a hardwood fast growing tree (the Paulowniaceae family) consisting of over 20 species
and a few natural hybrids.
The most important species of the genus include; P. albiphloea, P. australis, P. catalpifolia, P.
elongata, P. fargesii, P. fortunei, P. kawakamii and P. tomentosa.
The trees of paulownia are characterized by a wide range of uses, although the objectives of the
establishment of a plantation are to improve degraded soils, the use of animal manure, rapid biomass production
or cellulose wood for paper production.
Paulownia plants tolerate a fairly wide range of temperatures and humidity, are adapted to adverse soil
conditions, are light-loving, are tolerant to abiotic stressors.
The cultivation technology is simple, based on the use of a valuable biological material adapted to
specific local conditions, on the use of fertilizers and irrigation water, especially in the early years of life.
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Full-text available
C4 photosynthesis is an ultra‐efficient mode of photosynthesis found in some of our most productive crop species yet is notably rare in trees. Given C4 photosynthesis is associated with high yield in herbaceous species, especially under hot and dry conditions, C4 trees may seem an attractive prospect for biomass production and carbon sequestration in a rapidly changing climate. This may explain why some in the literature have optimistically linked C4 photosynthesis with the exceptionally fast‐growing tree Paulownia. However, this claim is lacking in evidence and represents an example of poor citation practices leading to the spread of misinformation. The rapid growth of trees in genus Paulownia (Paulowniaceae) has been attributed in the literature to their use of C4 photosynthesis, a complex trait that confers increased photosynthetic efficiency under certain environmental conditions. After careful examination of citations used to support the idea that Paulownia species use C4 photosynthesis, we find that there is no data underpinning this claim. Despite this, many investment schemes utilise information about the physiology of Paulownia, including photosynthetic type, to legitimise the use of Paulownia trees for financial investment and carbon offsetting. This study uses leaf physiology, anatomy and stable isotope data to determine whether or not three species in Paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa, Paulownia fortunei and Paulownia kawakamii) use C4 photosynthesis. These data are compared with existing data for C3 and C4 woody species in the literature. We show that the leaf physiology, anatomy and stable isotope phenotypes of the three Paulownia trees considered in the study are not consistent with those of C4 plants. Our findings highlight how inaccurate citation of scientific findings can contribute to the spread of misinformation beyond the scientific community, as some of those promoting investments in Paulownia plantations reference the photosynthetic superiority of Paulownia as a means to legitimise its use in carbon offsetting. C4 photosynthesis is an ultra‐efficient mode of photosynthesis found in some of our most productive crop species yet is notably rare in trees. Given C4 photosynthesis is associated with high yield in herbaceous species, especially under hot and dry conditions, C4 trees may seem an attractive prospect for biomass production and carbon sequestration in a rapidly changing climate. This may explain why some in the literature have optimistically linked C4 photosynthesis with the exceptionally fast‐growing tree Paulownia. However, this claim is lacking in evidence and represents an example of poor citation practices leading to the spread of misinformation.
Full-text available
Paulownia is a very adaptable, fast growing and multi-purpose agroforestry tree species. Paulownia and its hybrids become much more interesting globally in the last few decades, because of many uses including timber (for construction, doors, furniture, kitchens, boats etc.), intercropping (with wheat, maize, grass or other crops), CO2 and dust absorption etc. Additionally, Paulownia leaves are used for animal feed in some countries of the World, as well. According to that, this paper is dealing with the evaluation of nutritive value of Paulownia hybrid tree leaves. For determining the nutritive value of Paulownia containing dry matter (DM) 286.4 g/kg forage, crude protein 177.5 g/kg DM; neutral detergent fibre (NDF) 415.2 g/kg DM; acid detergent fibre (ADF) 372.6 g/kg DM; acid detergent lignin (ADL) 94.7 g/kg DM. In terms of the crude protein contents, this trial reported that the leaves of investigated Paulownia spp. hybrid could be used as forage for the ruminant nutrition.
Conference Paper
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The field experiment was carried out in 2016 on sandy soil in the forest nursery Białe-Błota (Bydgoszcz Forest Division, Poland). The effect of sprinkler irrigation on the growth Paulownia Shan Tong trees was investigated. The experiment was established as one factorial. The variability factor was the irrigation: S-sprinkler irrigation and C- without irrigation (control). The process included the controls of growth parameters: tree height, trunk diameter, number and surface of leaves. It was found that the sprinkled seedlings of Paulownia Shan Tong were significantly higher than those growing in the non-irrigated plots. The sprinkler irrigation applied in the experiment resulted in an increase in the number of leaves of the Paulownia and their surface area, which resulted in an increase in biomass yield. By analysing the results of the study on trunk diameter, leaf number and surface, it may be stated that irrigation watering significantly influenced the tested parameters. Irrigation significantly increased the height of Paulownia trees. The positive effect of the usage of sprinkler irrigation may indicate the possibility of effective application of this method in the field cultivation of Paulownia Shan Tong.
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The combined impacts of climate change, soil erosion, deforestation, pollution, population growth and resource depletion require urgent attention in instituting regenerative agricultural practices worldwide. This is particularly the case in NW Europe where the current farming paradigm is becoming obsolete due to pressures from many fronts. A new way forward has become necessary using agroecology wherein agroforestry is a key component. Paulownia species are indigenous to China and have been used as an agroforestry tree for over 2600 years due to their many positive attributes and multifaceted uses. Over the last four decades, the use of Paulownia intercropping systems have been established on up to three million hectares on the North China Plain and the species has been introduced as a plantation crop on all inhabited continents being one of fastest growing hardwood species in the world with up to six meters growth per year possible under optimal conditions. Paulownia, in particular P. tomentosa has been planted as an ornamental tree in NW Europe since the early 1800s but has not been considered as a possible commercial species in the region until the last few years. This study set out to explore whether Paulownia species could be suitable as an agroforestry species in intercropping systems on a field scale in NW Europe using methods consisting of literature review, secondary data analysis, and interviews with experts and growers. Furthermore, two case studies were carried out from existing commercial operations growing Paulownia in the focus area. Specific areas covered to assess suitability included a review of species and cultivars, ecological requirements, planting and growing techniques, invasiveness risk and market research into the timber product based on data from EU and abroad. In addition to the species assessment, a review was carried out identifying the main barriers to the adoption of agroforestry in NW Europe as part of a broader overview and analysing how Paulownia species could possibly have added advantages in overcoming some of these barriers. The results indicated that Paulownia species and hybrids could grow successfully as a commercial agroforestry crop in NW Europe based on data gathered from existing sites in the focus area established since 2009 where high survival rates and growth rates greater than 1 m per year were reported. No particular species or hybrid was identified as most suitable for agroforestry in the focus area but differences were confirmed depending on country of origin and propagation method. It was confirmed that species/hybrid selection, propagation method, site establishment, management practices in maintenance and pruning are critical factors to take into account in order to achieve timber of high quality. Invasiveness risk in NW Europe is assessed to be very low due to low summer temperatures and the use of sterile hybrid clones in agroforestry rather than P. tomentosa. Research showed that there is presently no established market in NW Europe for the timber but that interest in the unique properties of the wood is increasing in EU and the potential exists for profitable niche market in the future in particular for slow grown wood to be sold either in Europe or overseas. The study concludes that Paulownia species’ actual performance under local field conditions, adaptability and its diverse products and services fulfil most of the attributes of an ideal agroforestry tree and has the potential to be used more widely in NW European farming systems with the recommendation that further field trials be carried out into finding the most suitable species/hybrids in addition to increased dissemination of knowledge to farmers about the species.
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Paulownia elongata is a short-rotation fast growing tree and is known for high biomass accumulation and carbon sequestration potential. Optimization of protocols for nucleic acid extraction, PCR, RT-PCR, and other molecular biology techniques are required for better understanding of cellulose synthesis and to assess the potential of Paulownia as a biofuel tree. The main objective of this work was to study a putative cellulose synthase amplicon expression under various environmental conditions and evaluate the potentials of Paulownia as a biofuel tree. Using cross-species PCR an amplicon representative of a putative cellulose synthase gene from Paulownia was identified. This 177-bp long DNA sequence was 46% similar with cellulose synthase genes from Arabidopsis as expected. Gene specific primers for this particular Paulownia cellulose synthase gene were designed and reverse transcription PCR was performed to confirm its transcription. We report an inexpensive cDNA dot-blot method to study expression of this gene under various environmental conditions. We observed that cold and, to a lesser extent, heat stress downregulated its expression. This information will help to understand cellulose deposition in plant cell wall under stressful conditions. To the best of our knowledge this is the first characterization of a cDNA sequence from Paulownia elongata.
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A greenhouse experiment was done with vegetatively propagated trees to examine the influence of swine lagoon effluent on the growth and foliar nutrient content of the fast-growing hardwood species Paulownia elongata. Application of swine lagoon effluent promoted plant growth and was as beneficial as a complete chemical fertilizer applied at a similar nitrogen loading rate. Foliar concentrations of nitrogen were high, typically between 3.5% and 4.5%, when swine lagoon effluent was applied at a nitrogen loading rate equivalent to 205 or 409 kg/ha. Zinc and copper concentrations were also relatively high when plants received these swine lagoon effluent treatments (45 to 55 ppm and 17 to 23 ppm, respectively). Sufficient variation among P. elongata clones was revealed for growth parameters and foliar nutrient concentrations to anticipate a benefit from the selection of genotypes that are the most efficient for remediation of animal waste, i.e., high biomass production and foliar nutrient accumulation. The data show that P. elongata has potential for use as a swine waste utilization species.
The rapidly growing demand for paper, cardboard and other pulp-related products in the last few decades has raised a serious problem owing to the increasing shortage of wood raw materials. One possible solution is the use of sources other than classical leafy and resinous plant materials. Such alternative raw materials include perennial and deciduous plants, as well as agricultural residues. In this work, the potential of Paulownia, an alternative to agrofood crops, as a raw material for making cellulose paper pulp was assessed as a means for reducing wood use and pulp and paper imports, as well as avoiding food surpluses, in the European Union. This type of plant has the additional advantage over agricultural residues such as cereal straw, sunflower stalks, sorghum stalks, vine shoots, cotton plant stalks and olive tree wood that it can be cropped in highly localized geographical areas, thereby avoiding the typical scatter of the previous residues. In this work, we determined the solubility in water and 1% NaOH, alcohol-benzene extractables, ash, holocellulose, lignin, α-cellulose and hemicellulose content and fiber length of the Paulownia, and the yield, viscosity, Kappa number and degree of refining of soda pulp obtained from Paulownia, as well as the breaking length, strength, burst index and brightness of paper sheets made from it, with a view to assessing the potential of the plant as a raw material for the paper making industry.
This study investigated the surface roughness and wettability of polypropylene composites filled with Paulownia elongata wood flour with and without maleic anhydride-grafted polypropylene at different wood flour contents (30, 40, 50, and 60 wt%). The surface roughness values of the filled polypropylene composites decreased with increasing content of the polypropylene. The polypropylene composites without the maleic anhydride-grafted polypropylene were found to have higher surface roughness but better wettability as compared with the ones with the maleic anhydride-grafted polypropylene. The wettability of polypropylene composites increased with increasing content of the wood flour. The incorporation of the coupling agent in the polypropylene composites decreased the wettability of the specimens compared with untreated ones. The test result showed that P. elongata wood flour could be utilized in the production of the filled polypropylene composites because of their satisfying surface properties of the composites.
The influence of the process conditions of pulping of a trihybrid clone Paulownia on pulp properties in the soda-anthraquinone process has been investigated. A composite central experimental design and a multiple regression were used to find the relationship between independent process variables and pulp properties.The ash content (8.9 g kg−1) is lower and cellulose content (440 g kg−1) is higher than those found for other species of Pauwlonia and other energetic crops. The elemental composition has a low content in S and N (2.1 g kg−1) in comparation with poplar or willow. With a gross heating value of 20.3 MJ kg−1. This is somewhat higher than those for hardwood, slightly higher than those for Pinus pinaster and softwood, and much higher than those for residues of food plants and agricultural crops. This supports the use of the genus Paulownia as an energy crop.Fiber length (0.97 mm) is similar to hardwoods and suitable physical characteristics of paper sheets (tensile index) and acceptable chemical characteristics and yield pulping could be obtained by operating at low-intermediate temperature (163–171 °C) and alkali concentration (200 g kg−1) and high or medium values for operation time (120–150 min). The pulp obtained at these conditions has suitable chemical (pulp) and physical (paper sheets) characteristics: yield (470 g kg−1), ethanol-benzene extractives (22.2 g kg−1), holocellulose contents (960 g kg−1), α-cellulose contents (758 g kg−1), lignin contents (82.8 g kg−1), Shopper–Riegler degree (23.2 °SR), and tensile index (36.0 kN m kg−1).