PROSPECTS FOR THE USE OF THE WOOD OF PAULOWNIA TOMENTOSA (THUNB.) STEUD.
Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Steud., commonly known as royal paulownia, empress tree, foxglove-tree or princess tree, is a fast-growing plant species, native to eastern Asia. The plant is introduced in Ukraine and currently its 11 varieties, suitable for dissemination and recommended for cultivation in all natural and climatic zones of the country, are registered, including the groups of energy, decorative and technical crops. The purposes of the work comprise summarization and systematization of the available scientific data on the taxonomic characteristics, morphological and ecological features of Paulownia tomentosa in Ukraine, as well as the investigation of the mechanical properties of its wood during plantation cultivation and assessment of suitability and possibilities for the uses in various sectors of industry. Relevant literature sources have been summarized and the results of research on the biological and ecological properties of Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Steud., under the conditions of the Western Forest Steppe of Ukraine, have been presented. The mechanical properties of wood from paulownia, grown by plantation cultivation in Ukraine, have been determined for the first time and their further comparative assessment with autochthonous tree species has been performed. The determined mechanical properties include modulus of elasticity, compressive strength parallel to grain, static bending strength and static hardness. All these four measured characteristics have been specified as minimum values in sapwood and heartwood parts of the paulownia trunk, however, they have been absolutely characterized by the highest rates in the middle part (between the sapwood and heartwood). These data demonstrate that paulownia wood is characterized by a sharp change in the mechanical characteristics within the diameter of the trunk. By its main properties paulownia wood is close to the aspen wood, thus, its middle part of the trunk is closer to the wood of conifers, which are widely utilized in construction. The received data might be taken into consideration by specialists in the woodworking, furniture and agricultural industries within the formation of paulownia plantations and the further application of its wood. When planning plantation cultivation of paulownia, it is advisable to take into account not only the possibility of obtaining high-quality wood and a large volume of biomass in a short period of time, but also its other useful properties: floral abundance and, accordingly, high nectar productivity; prospects for application in medicine; the ability of vegetative propagation regeneration several times after cutting the parent tree; the possibility of rapid formation of anti-erosion and wind protection plantings, afforestation of ravines, wastelands and land erosion areas.
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