The Paulownia honey, new in Europe, millenary in China

Hoja del Árbol de paulownia

Technicians of the European project LIFE + Ecoglauca Ergon, a research project that aims to develop new energy crops for use in biomass, erosion control in areas of very low productivity and abandoned, rural development and the development of crops for the capture of greenhouse gases, have discovered by chance the usefulness of a species native to the Asian continent, the Paulownia tree, a tree that in addition to producing a large amount of biomass, is a melliferous tree, ie produces a large amount of nectar and pollen, which bees can use to produce their honey.

Find out more about the flowers that pollinate bees in: Flowers and bees

Paulownia Honey

Paulownia honey is a honey not listed in Europe, but has been consumed in China and Australia for millennia.

A technician from this study discovered, while making his routine inventory of the Paulownias crop in Navarrés, one of the seven municipalities in the Valencia region where this European research project is being carried out, that many bees were going to pollinate this tree in search of its pollen and nectar.

After observing these facts, the technician asked a beekeeper from Navarrés to place a beehive in order to observe the behaviour of the bees in the hives with the new plantations of paulownia.  They discovered what they were already imagining, that the flowers of this tree were very much desired by the bees. The honey produced was then analysed and it was confirmed that the bees used pollen and nectar from the trees of the paulownia to make their honey.

Paulownia is native to China, Laos and Vietnam. It has been cultivated for decades in Korea and Japan for commercial purposes and to regenerate heavily eroded and contaminated soils.

The paulownias are deciduous trees, in which they bloom and have their highest season of growth in spring and summer, covering their tops very thickly with leaves. They can grow up to four metres in a year, and even more if they are in very good condition. In autumn, the leaves fall down to prepare for the cold winter, depositing themselves on the ground. These can have two purposes, to leave them in the soil for decomposition and enrichment, increasing the amount of organic matter and nitrogen content, as they are very rich in this element. Or, they can be used for livestock, both in green and teddy.

The tree of paulownia

The pauolownia tree is a great opportunity for Spanish farmers. First, the wood it produces is of very high quality and rots with great difficulty. For this reason it is highly valued in the marine and nautical industry.

Second, it has a very fast growth rate, probably the fastest growing tree in the plant world. This means that it is not necessary to wait until 10 or 20 years, like other crops, to sell the wood. In 5 or 6 years, it will be thick enough for sale.

Third, as indicated above, it produces a large amount of foliage, allowing the farmer to make annual profits from the sale of this foliage, either green or hay for livestock.

Fourth, thanks to its rapid growth it allows you to control and manage very eroded and poor soils.

Beekeepers also benefit greatly from this new crop, as the flowers of the paulownia are very melliferous, i.e. they produce a large amount of nectar and pollen, sources for the production of honey. The paulownia honey is of high quality.

Another of the benefits of this tree is that, as it is not a plantation for the purpose of harvesting the fruit, no phytosanitary measures are applied during flowering, allowing the bees to be respected and not poisoned.

Characteristics of paulownia honey:

Palownian honey has a very remarkable taste, it is a light and very aromatic honey. Its color and consistency is similar to acacia honey.

Sources:

The newspaper Las Provincias: http://www.lasprovincias.es/

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