Paulownia is native to China and cultivated extensively across Eastern Asia, but is also now being used for reforestation programmes in other countries, including Australia - many of the hippies in our area had the foresight to plant paulownias 15 - 20 years ago so there are now quite a few mature trees around.
Paulownia is deciduous and very fast growing with beautiful large flowers rather like a foxglove. The wood is very light, open grained, soft and warp resistant - it also has a low silica content so is kind to the machine blades! In China and Korea, paulownia is used for the soundboards of some stringed instruments and in Japan it is used for chests and boxes; the wood is burned to make charcoal for sketching and powder for fireworks.
Here in Comboyne, we found we were able to make paulownia lattices almost 30% lighter than our high grade cedar ones, meaning we can keep the same resonances and frequencies but have a more acoustically efficient soundboard due to its light weight.