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Mike Bosela: Paulownia trees not appropriate for our region

Comments re photo 67839 Trees of Kentucky Paulownia with seed pods

By Mike Bosela

I agree with V. Kolbenschlag, Paulownia trees are not appropriate for planting in our region.

They have large and attractive flowers for a tree, but they are able to spread into natural plant communities and to outcompete our native trees.

The pods that are shown the photo produce lots of tiny wind dispersed seeds that help to carry the tree into new habitats.

Those of us who enjoy observing trees can attest that Paulownia and 'Tree of Heaven' are two of the fastest spreading non-native trees in this part of the state.

Since trees are long lived the changes in forest composition are slow to develop but the impacts are no less real or significant than we have seen for invasive grasses (Johnson Grass), shrubs (privet, burning bush) and vines (kudzo, Japanese honeysuckle, etc.).

Aside from crowding out native plants, exotic plants also are often damaging to food webs.

Native insect are generally not able to consume the tissues of exotic plants such as Paulownia, since they did not co-evolve together.

The net result is that less energy is transferred to other animals in the food web. -Mike Bosela

This story was posted on 2016-08-07 20:34:22
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