The Paulownia tree, indigenous to mainland China, has been highly valued there for more than 2000 years. Interest in the tree was recently renewed when a South American country requested Paulownia seeds from the Chinese. Paulownia was brought out of obscurity for good reason. Most species of Paulownia are extremely fast growing, and can be harvested in 15 years for valuable timber (valued at US $600-1,000 per cubic meter). This tree can be intercropped with food crops resulting in increased yields, used for windbreaks, shelterbelts, soil erosion abatements, reclamation, ornamental plantings, and honey. A full-grown Paulownia can reach a height of 30 to 60 feet, and grow up to 8 feet in one year under ideal conditions. This tree is well-suited for agroforestry systems because of its deep tap root. It does not compete with shallow rooted crops. The roots condition the soil and retain moisture. The large leaves can be used as fodder. A 10-year-old tree can produce 30 kg of dry leaves annually, and 400 kg of young branches. The leaves also serve as a valuable soil amendment; they break down slowly, providing a slower release of minerals to the soil than small leaves. Paulownia can adjust to many soil conditions, but is susceptible to water logging and prefers deep, well-drained soils. It proliferates readily on disturbed hillside soils. Sandy or heavy loam is favored, clay or stony soils are not. It can adapt to brown forest soils in temperate zones, yellow soils in subtropical zones, and a pH as low as 3-5. Annual precipitation range from 500-2,600 mm. A humid climate is preferred. A daily mean temperature of 24-30íC favors optimal growth. This tree needs a lot of light. Careful spacing and management are necessary to optimize shade and other potential benefits. It is very similar to poplars in management. Paulownia is susceptible to insect attack, disease and an airborne fungus called witches broom. P. elongata is the fastest growing species.v International Tree Crops, Vol 1, No. 1. July-December 1990. China's forest net lifts food outputs 30%. p.p. 43-45. Saik Yoon, C. and Toomey, G. Paulownia, China's wonder tree. IDRC Reports, April 1986. Benge, M. 1987. Paulownia tormentosa, an Excellent Tree for Agroforestry and Windbreaks in the more Temperate Regions of the Developing Countries. S&T/FENR Agro-forestation Technical Series #23. For more information and seed: Dr. P. Beckjord, 4304 Kenny St., Beltsville, Md. 20705 U.S.A.