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Earth Day: Celebrating Paulownia

20 April 2022

Friday 22nd April marks Earth Day, a day for us to renew our focus and remember the importance of protecting our planet. We've dedicated this blog to the incredible 'phoenix tree'. Is it as cool as it sounds? We think so.

Gadsby has long used Paulownia in the production of our timber products. A fast-growing and attractive hardwood it's also known as the 'phoenix tree' for its almost magical ability to so quickly regenerate from its roots once harvested. The UK now has growers and businesses recognising its green credentials, which is fantastic. Let's find out more.

Paulownia Plantation

What is Paulownia?

Paulownia is the fastest-growing species of hardwood tree. Taking its name from Queen Consort of the Netherlands in the mid-1800s, the tree is also popularly referred to as the 'Princess' or 'Empress' tree. An attractive tree with large, heart-shaped leaves (75 cm in diameter, they're huge!), it's covered in a profusion of vibrant lilac-hued blossoms in Spring.

Paulownia blossoms in Spring

Where does Paulownia grow?

Paulownia originates in China and Japan, where it's still grown and widely used. Paulownia is incredibly versatile, a true survivor. Where other species would not survive in poor soil types, close to large industrial cities, Paulownia can thrive. It's therefore an excellent tree for regenerating perished and polluted soils. Foliage, once it has fallen, fertilises the soil with natural humus making way for new growth.

Is Paulownia sustainable?

Yes! Due to the speed at which Paulownia grows it's an innately sustainable material. Once harvested the 'phoenix tree' recovers and regrows quickly, making it a key player in sustainable forestry. An established tree can grow in excess of 2.5m in one season, now that's pretty impressive! What's more Paulownia trees are described as "carbon sucking", capturing 10 times as much carbon as the native British trees we're more familiar with here in the UK. Quoted as a natural remedy for mitigating the effects of climate change there are few materials that can rival these credentials and it's one of the many reasons we choose to use it. Way to go Paulownia!

Planting Paulownia

Why do we use Paulownia?

As well as its ecological benefits Paulownia has huge potential in manufacturing. We use Paulownia because it's a sustainable choice and because its timber is strong, light, and resistant to warping. It also has an attractive cool blond tone and takes well to staining and painting making it particularly versatile. Around the world, Paulownia is used to make anything from furniture to surfboards and musical instruments. And it's not just the timber that is useful, the leaves are used for animal fodder and the extract is taken for beauty and medicinal purposes.

What Gadsby products are made from Paulownia?

We use a lot of solid Paulownia to make gift packaging and display products. This includes a collection of bottle boxes, wooden crates, and counter top display. We've highlighted products that are made from this incredible natural material on every page, under the product features list. Just give our team a call if you're not sure. We'll also include some examples below.

Browse Paulownia Products