Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Kimono and the Empress Tree

The Kimono and the Empress Tree

There is an ancient Japanese tradition for a family to plant an Empress Tree when a daughter is born. With delicate purple flowers in the spring and umbrella sized leaves, the 'Paulownia tomentosa' proved to mature at the same pace as the growing child. As tradition recalls, when the daughter was engaged to be wed, her tree would then be harvested and the lumber used to build a chest to store her Kimono.
The properties of Paulownia wood are perfectly suited to protect the delicate silk Kimonos.    During months of high humidity, the wood would protect the Kimono from mildew by absorbing the moisture. During the dry months, the wood contracted to allow air to pass through so the Kimono could breath.
Today, the Paulownia and the Kimono continue to be perfectly suited together, with no synthetic material capable of responding as well to the needs of the silk Kimono. While the Paulownia is a non-native plant to our area, it has proved to be incredibly prolific and beneficial. At maturity, an Empress Tree can absorb almost 25 gallons of waste water per year, release about 15 lbs of oxygen per day and is able to remove close to 50 lbs of carbon dioxide each year.

Written by

Georgia Doremus 
WWOOFER at Village Green Nov 2013