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Uses For Paulownia

By Amy Deemer ; Updated September 21, 2017

The fast-growing paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa) has been treasured by Asian culture for centuries. Commonly known as the Chinese empress, the paulownia reaches heights ranging from 30 to 70 feet and is 3 to 5 feet in diameter. Paulownia have large, dark green, heart-shaped leaves that are 4 to 8 inches wide and 6 to 16 inches long. The tree produces attractive clusters of fragrant, bell-shaped, purple flowers. Paulownia wood is high-priced and has a variety of uses.

Musical Instruments

The strong light-weight wood of the paulownia tree is an ideal choice for constructing musical instruments. Paulownia wood is highly-resonant and is often used in creating the body of an instrument. The kayagum, one of the most popular Korean instruments, is associated with classical and court music. The body of the large instrument is made from one piece of paulownia wood. Known for its more masculine timber, the kimungo is a six-stringed instrument that is played while sitting down. The sound board of the kimungo is made from paulownia wood.


Paulownia wood is light in weight, but its strength and durability make it a good choice for many of the important structural elements in buildings and homes. Contractors and builders use beams, rafters, ceilings, windows and doors that are made from paulownia wood. Easily shaped and curved, paulownia is often used for decorative moldings and framing materials. The wood is resistant to decay and rot and is not susceptible to rapid drying that leads to cracking and splitting in other woods. Paulowina rarely splits when nails or spikes are driven into the wood.

Furniture and Home Decor

The easy-to-work, sturdy wood of the paulownia tree is used in making decorative wooden chests. Paulownia wood is easily decorated with intricate designs that have become associated with Asian decor. Cupboards, tables, chairs, dressers, wardrobes and cabinets made from paulownia wood are long-lasting, durable and attractive due to the ornamental designs carved into he wood. Decorative tea boxes, bowls and venetian blinds are made from the soft, pliable, light colored wood of the paulownia tree. Chests constructed from paulownia wood are are light weight, easy to carry and are largely damage-resistant.

Miscellaneous Uses

Plywood, veneer,particle board, flake board, paneling and folding partitions are all made from the wood of the paulownia tree. Ground paulownia wood is being used as an insulation material in cooling systems and as a biodegradable, odorless,organic packing agent. Paulownia wood is often used in beehives and the highly insulated, lightweight hives have resulted in a higher production of honey. Boat, airplane, recreational vehicle, train, truck and bus manufacturers have found that paulownia wood is highly resistant to stains and destruction as well as rot and use it in the interior cabinetry, seats, wall coverings and trim of their vehicles.