Paulownia --> powton: alternative timber

Wolfgang N. Naegeli wnn at
Mon Dec 10 13:45:53 EST 1990

I received the following through native net and repost it here to see
whether anyone has comments about it, in particular about the
ecological/environmental impacts of growing powton in monocultures
outside of its native range, and perhaps good ideas how powton could
be grown in polyculture.

Wolfgang N. Naegeli
Internet: wnn at     Bitnet: wnn at ornlstc
Phone: 615-574-6143        Fax: 615-574-6141 (MacFax)
QuickMail (QM-QM): Wolfgang Naegeli @ 615-574-4510
Snail: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6206

The Age, Good Weekend, Nov 17 1990, pp101. (advert)


(Madam  Tong  Quing Juan, Senior Agricultural  Scientist  at  the
Chinese Academy of Forestry)

As you read this what's left of the world's rainforests is  being
cleared as if there's no tomorrow.


The  reasons are many and complex, but one of them, at least,  is

They're free.

A  free source of fine quality timber for  veneering,  panelling,
furniture and joinery. A source that must be replaced.


The seeds of an idea whose time has come:

In 1945 China suffered a shortage of timber and, lacking  foreign
exchange, no easy solution was in sight.

Since time immemorial the elegant, deciduous flowering  Paulownia
had  been  treasured for it's light, stable  and  finely  figured
timber. But its time had come.

Its growth was too slow.

In  their  wisdom,  the Chinese would never  sacrifice  a  living
treasure  to  progress, so painstakingly they  brought  Paulownia
into the 20th century.

Forty  years  later  the species  had  been  transformed  through
endless  trialling  and development into  fast  producing  clones
capable  of turning a national shortage into a modest  exportable

The Paulownia becomes the powton:

In  1986 the timeless hills of China merged with the misty  hills
of Mount Dandenong.

Farm  Fodder Trees Australia, a small but  enthusiastic  nursery,
became  the  only successful suitor  to the  Chinese  Academy  of
Forestry  (ahead of various  foreign governments  and  companies)
for plant rights to the new Paulownia.

A joint venture was born.

Since,  16  varieties  of Paulownia have  been  trialled  on  800
diverse  sites  on Australia's eastern seaboard.  Forty  distinct
clonal varieties have been developed and now thrive in their  new

And with Australian naturalisation came a new name, the powton.

The powton. It can help save more than rainforests:

Taiwanese,  Japanese and Korean demand for paulownia  timber  now
runs at $500 to $2500 per cubic metre.

Capable of producing millable timber within 5-17 years, the  Farm
Fodder  Trees as yet unreleased Powton super clones are  probably
the world's fastest growing commercial trees.

Which  means  Australia's timber producers could rapidly  turn  a
timber  importing deficit into a profitable export surplus.  Thus
we  could grow our economy while conserving Australian and  Asian

Last  year  alone, we imported hundreds of  millions  of  dollars
worth of rainforest timbers all replaceable by the powton.

The  powton also helps rehabilitate depleted and  non  productive

Its  salt  resistance,  rapid growth and deep  roots  can  reduce
salinity, reduce erosion, and lower water tables.

But the powton can't do it alone:

Reafforestation is an enormous project.

To  realise  the  powton's  potential as  a  forestry  timber,  a
coordinated  government and industry programme is needed. As  yet
it's not forthcming.

Fortunately the powton has another trick up its sleeve. It's self

material, Madam Tong has developed a magnificent domestic  powton

This   rapidly  growing  floral  shade  tree  has   received   an
overwhelming  reception  from  gardening   enthusiasts  Australia

Its  success  enables us to become one of what must  become  many
enterprises  dedicated  to finding productive  ways  of  reducing
demand on the world's finite rainforest resource.

This is where you come in:

You're invited to come and witness developments first hand.

Observe  the science of tissue culture, bask in the shade of a  3
year  old,  7  metre powton and quietly listen to  them  grow  as
you're  overcome  by  the  same missionary  zeal  that  keeps  us

You  may  even  take one home and  help  protect  rainforests  by
raising  an  ecologically sound, income producing answer  to  our
future timber requirements. In your own backyard.

If you'd like to raise your consciousness of the powton project a
little  further, contact Chris Lucas at Farm Fodder Trees  on  03
7512277  or visit our nursery at 27 Hume Lane,  Mount  Dandenong,
open 7 days a week.

You  may  even be stirred to your very roots. And that's  a  most
intriguing experience.


I  spoke  briefly to Chris Lucas on the phone. The  powton  needs
good  drainage  and  high rainfall - other  short  falls  may  be
overcome by agro-forestry methods such as adding potash.

According to Eden seeds - deep roots allow intercropping.....

God  knows where this is all insights are  a  bit
vague today - thought it would provoke some thought anyhow.

Cedrus Deodara

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