Meet the Empress
“BONAFIDE MIRACLE TREE”
Fastest-growing tree in the world
Non-invasive, non-GMO, naturally occurring
Produces quality lightweight hardwood lumber in 7-10 years
Regrows multiple times after harvest without replanting
Provides a host of local ecosystem services unlike any other tree
The Empress Splendor tree is a member of the Paulownia genus and is regarded as the fastest-growing tree in the world (Guinness Book of World Records). It reaches hardwood maturity within 10 years, and will regrow from the same root system up to 7 more times, making it a truly renewable resource. World Tree’s vision is to help slow the destruction of the world’s primary forests by cultivating fast-growing eco-timber in partnership with farmers and other landowners.
The Empress Splendor trees perform these feats of nature without being genetically modified. They are bred by conventional methods used by farmers for thousands of years. The trees grown by World Tree are non-invasive hybrids of the fortunei and elongata species. They have deep taproot systems that do not compete with other plants around it, making them perfect for intercropping and permaculture growing systems.
Paulownia is a sacred tree of the Orient, long revered for its fast growth, quality wood and uses in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In Japan, it is the emblem of the prime minister. It was once native to North America before the last ice-age. It is not well known here, although it has been grown ornamentally in gardens for over a hundred years in the US, Canada and Europe. World Tree’s Empress Splendor trees grow best in the parts of the Southeastern USA, and Western Canada, where the primary use is lumber. World Tree is also planting in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico where it is commonly intercropped with plants such as coffee, cacao and corn.
From planting to harvest in 10 years
World Tree is planting Empress Splendor trees with select farmers and landowners in North and Latin America. We have 18 of our own non-invasive varieties and we select the best strain based on the farmer’s location. In North America, we plant in altitudes of less than 2,200 feet with summer temperatures of 70°F (21°C) and above for at least 5-6 months a year. In locations closer to the equator, planting takes place often at higher altitudes.
The trees can grow well in poor soil conditions, including soil degraded from other tree crops such as pine, or in unused cattle grazing areas. The trees typically grow 10-20 feet in the first year and can reach maturity in 10 years.
World Tree works closely with the farmers to ensure maximum growth and health of the trees. Learn more about our farmer program.
After 10 years of growth, World Tree harvests the trees and sells the lumber. One of the amazing properties of the tree is that it regrows from the stump very quickly after harvesting and will regrow itself up to 7 times after being cut down. This makes it a sustainable source of lumber for generations to come.
Ecosystem services unsurpassed by any other tree
The variety of ecosystem services provided by the Empress Splendor tree are virtually unsurpassed by any other tree. In a recent report (link the NB report), the species was found to be one of the most efficient trees on the planet for sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and returning it to the soil, making it a highly effective tool in reversing climate change. One acre of trees can absorb up to 90 tons of carbon per year, more than enough to offset the average carbon footprint of 4 people.
The Empress also has unique nitrogen-fixing properties and can naturally return nitrogen to depleted soil via its leaves and root systems. The carbon and nitrogen rich soil can retrain water more efficiently and provide a much more robust and resilient environment for all the plants and trees in the area.
The springtime blossoms of the Empress tree are highly “nectariferous” providing abundant nectar to pollinating insects including honey bees. They therefore have a critical role to play in maintaining healthy agricultural systems, especially when planted with or close to other flowering crops such as coffee.
They do not respond well to chemical products, preferring instead organic farming methods and the use of natural fertilizers such as chicken manure.
The Empress tree is a ‘wet’ wood which makes it naturally fire and insect resistant. It is also rot resistant and hypoallergenic, with a high R value.
Carbon eating machine
One of the most efficient trees on the planet at carbon sequestration.
Helps reverse global warming, absorbing enough CO2 annually to offset a family of 4.
Carbon offset projects under development.
The flowers of the Empress tree are rich in nectar, attracting pollinating insects including honeybees.
This not only supports the pollinators, but also enhances the health of agricultural systems where the trees are intercropped with flowering plants such as coffee, or planted in their vicinity.
Regenerates the soil
The Empress is a nitrogen-fixing tree that can convert atmospheric nitrogen through its leaves and convert it to useable soil nutrients. This process greatly enhances the health and productivity of the soil without using synthetic fertilizers.
And the large leaves provide shade and shelter for other plants such as shade grown coffee.