Paulownia Overview

Who I am?

     Hi, I am Dr. David Sutton.  I'm a dentist by profession, but my interest is in forestry and Paulownia rules.  I have been in the paulownia circuit since 1988.  In those years I have help thousands to people learn more about paulownia.  This is a picture of me in China in 2014 helping a forestry company propagate over a million seedling.
What I Do?
     I promote Paulownia.  Plantation grown Paulownia answers many of the world's problems...global warming through capturing carbon; reduction of plastic utilization through the use of wood plastic composite; deforestation by replacing use of native trees; alternative farming for the small farmer; natural fertilizer for the gardener.

Paulownia Invasive?

      Short answer....NO, don't always believe the goverment!​​

First let's look at the USDA's definition.

An invasive species is defined as any "species that is non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health".

     A species can meet some, but not all of these criteria and still not be considered invasive.  For example:  In many situations, livestock is not native to the location it is being raised; however, due to their economic benefits, they are not considered invasive. Additionally, livestock is not considered invasive because domestic animals are not considered part of a population.  However when a species becomes free from domestication it then can be considered invasive (e.g. feral pigs).  Equally, a genus can cause economic or environmental harm and still be native to an ecosystem; therefore, it would not be considered invasive, like poison ivy.  

      Paulownia does not meet this definition because it is a native of North America according to Dr. Charles J. Smiley in his paper " A Record of Paulownia in the Tertiary of North America" published in 1961 by the Published by: Botanical Society of America, Inc.  Also, to date, I have found no reputable sources indicting Paulownia causes economic, environmental, or human harm.

     The truth is President George H. W. Bush place Paulownia tomentosa on the USDA invasive list by executive order.  The reason was political based and has no biological foundation.  Before the Japanese started purchasing wild Paulownia, no one paid much attention.  However, when the price jumps from $0.00 per board foot to $5 per board foot in the 1980s, it gets people attention, including President Bush!  Funny how there was millions of Paulownia dollars located on federal lands that had to be eradicated after his order.