What do Dustin Hoffman, Halle Berry, Tim Robbins, Robin Williams, Leornardo DiCaprio, Orlando Bloom, Adrian Brody, Mike Myers, Laura Linney, Scarlett Johansson, Bobby Boucher and Buzz Kohan have in common? Dragon trees from the Paulownia Tree Company.
It’s not all big fashion names sprouting out of the glittering gift baskets given to the stars and presenters at this year’s Oscars. You won’t find Zoe’Anna Thies on Rodeo Drive. Thies cultivates and sells Paulownia trees in the rural wine country of Mendocino County in Northern California. It is those trees that made it into the baskets of the stars and were featured on the Oprah Winfrey show.
"A total of 188 gift certificates for environmental gift baskets have been distributed and I hope each recipient will be intrigued to own and nurture his/her own Paulownia tree," said Thies.
Paulownia is a fast growing, lightweight hardwood tree that is used in the making of homes, moldings, cabinets, veneers, furniture, flooring, musical instruments and many other applications. "Paulownia trees happily grow and thrive in areas with severe dust, smoke, and even sulfur fumes. They can live 85 to 100 years," said Thies.
Paulownia trees are grown not only for their valuable hardwood, but for cleaning the air, water remediation, preventing soil erosion or creating a canopy for growing organic herbs and other crops.
The baskets of Green gifts were offered by Gaiam/Real Goods along with an invitation to "Connect with a few of the simple yet significant ways you can make a difference in the world." Gaiam/Real Goods is a multi-channel marketer of environmental and renewable energy products and healthy lifestyle products. Thies’ Paulownia trees have been distributed by Gaiam/Real Goods for years.
The Kawakamii Paulownia tree can provide shade in 16 to 18 months and reach a 30-foot height in just three years. The trees flower with large Orchid-like lavender blossoms scented like Jasmine and the blossoms are edible. They contribute a unique zing to an everyday salad. Some cultures use the leaves and flowers to feed livestock. The Paulownia also can be used for reforestation. These ancient trees are known to have existed in North America prior to the Ice Age and according to Dr.Joachim Scheven, who wrote Megasuccessions, were considered extinct at one time. The forest trees can reach a height of 80 feet in 10 years. They are drought, disease and fire resistant, can be commercially harvested and regenerate from the stump. The timber is light in color and weight with qualities like mahogany.
These trees have excellent commercial value. About 200 can be planted on an acre of land. When mature, between 7 and 10 years, the crop can conservatively gross $98,000. Then, they regenerate from the stump, typically reaching maturity again in only 3 to 5 years. "I don’t know why more people aren’t farming these wonderful trees," said Thies. "It is a win-win situation. Not only can you create a forest that helps the environment, but you can create your own income for future investment or retirement," said Thies.
"I use a process to reproduce the trees which assures that they are sterile and non-invasive when brought into a new area. It actually starts in a laboratory with tissue cultures in a Petri dish that allow me to make an exact duplicate of the mother stock. It is a specialized process,” Thies explained.
"These trees are excellent for any home owner who wants a beautiful, fast growing shade tree that will be a delight for years and the perfect solution for reforestation of our world." Thies said. "I’ve been in this business for seven years and I’ve fostered thousands of trees around the world: North America, Europe, Asia, everywhere! I live in rural Northern California and have seen the effects of a timber industry that consumed and now struggles to manage what is left of our valuable Redwood trees. I’ve seen the entire industry decline because second growth Redwoods take so long to reach maturity. Paulownia trees are fast growing trees providing an exceptional quality of timber. My ultimate goal is to promote reforestation with Paulownia. The difference between these trees and typical forest trees is forestry farming. You have to cultivate for only the first 3 years, which is excellent considering you have a potential return of $100,000 per acre. The return is at least 25-to-1."
Thies’ business is the Paulownia Tree Company. The website is www.dragontrees.com or you may call (800) 439-4341. They will be happy to help you learn more about the history and applications for the tree, both as a unique expression for the home gardener and for the commercial grower.
"The Paulownia Tree has deeply rooted itself in my heart," said Thies. Her work with them contributes to the sustainability of the world by reducing global warming. Thies knows that in this country and around the world we can make a difference one tree at a time.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, Kenya’s Assistant Minister for the Environment, spoke these words after learning that she had won the Nobel Peace Prize for organizing the Green Belt Movement which planted 30 million trees. "What do trees have to do with peace," she asked? "Simple, most wars are fought over natural resources."
"I know that together we can make a difference that will impact the environment immediately. I invite each one of you to buy a tree today and buy one as a gift for everyone you know, or tell them to buy a tree. Together, we will be contributing gifts that last a lifetime for generations to come. Now is the time!" said Thies.