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Paulownia introduction

Common Name(s): Paulownia, Royal Paulownia, Princess Tree, Kiri

Scientific Name: Paulownia tomentosa

Distribution: Native to eastern Asia; also planted in eastern North America

Tree Size: 30-65 ft (10-20 m) tall, 2-4 ft (.6-1.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 18 lbs/ft3 (280 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .25, .28

Janka Hardness: 300 lbf (1,330 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 5,480 lbf/in2 (37.8 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 635,000 lbf/in2 (4.38 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 3,010 lbf/in2 (20.7 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 2.4%, Tangential: 3.9%, Volumetric: 6.4%, T/R Ratio: 1.6

Pricing/Availability: Paulownia is seldom offered for sale in the United States, though it’s actually grown on plantations and exported to Japan, where demand for the wood is much higher. Prices are likely to be high for a domestic species.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Plywood, veneer, furniture, boxes, millwork/siding, musical instruments (electric guitar bodies), clogs, carvings, and other small specialty items.

Comments: The other Balsa. Paulownia is used in applications where a lightweight (yet proportionately strong) wood is needed. It’s widely used in Japan for construction of the koto (a stringed musical instrument), as well as other household items, where the wood is referred to asKiri. Paulownia is one of the fastest growing trees in the world, capable of growth rates of well over seven feet per year as a seedling! But while it’s highly appreciated and cultivated in Asia, Paulownia has come to be considered an invasive species in the United States.

Paulownia was named after Queen Anna Pavlovna of Russia (1795-1865), and is sometimes called Royal Paulownia or Princess Tree.