An European Tree with American Roots.
The Robinia originally comes from the north-eastern part of America. In the middle of the 18th century, Carl von Linne named Robinia after the French court gardener Jean Robin, who helped bringing the Robinia across the Atlantic.
Jean Robin discovered Robinia as an ornamental tree and brought it from America to France in the beginning of the 17th century for his royal gardens and parks. In Germany, the first references to Robinia date from the year 1670 concerning Robinias in the Berlin pleasure garden. Today Robinias can be found almost everywhere in Central and Eastern Europe.
After the eucalyptus and cottonwood species, Robinia is today the most frequently cultivated broadleaf worldwide – predominantly with the objective to improve the quality of soil (nitrogen input) and to assure heaps. Forestations for wood production exist primarily in South-eastern Europe, with the largest areas in Hungary and Romania.
In Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria Robinia populations grow on several hundred thousands of hectares in each country. These are mostly not treated silviculturally and have been increasingly “cultivated” only in the last years. In the meantime high value is set on a better genetic material and appropriate silvicultural concepts.
Large Robinia populations can also be found in the eastern parts of France and in the typical wine-growing districts in the southwest, where Robinia is grown traditionally for wine poles.
In Germany, significant Robinia populations can be found in a pure form primarily in the part of the former GDR, in the devastated lands around Berlin (Brandenburg), but also in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. Robinia can be found in the western part too, in the form of sections or as a mixture; it occurs from the brown coal heaps in the Cologne district over the Saarland (partly monoculture), over the whole Rhine region up to Freiburg. Robinia is often grown together with viticultures in order to produce poles for the vines in addition to the protection from wind and erosion. Altogether there are several millions of so-called solid cubic metres of Robinia reserves available in Germany.
Outside Europe, Robinia continues to grow of course in its homeland, the USA, where it has spread itself in the meantime over the whole continent. However, currently it’s not used in larger quantities in the timber industry there.
In Korea very large areas of Robinia of around 300,000 hectares can be found and these are used primarily for protecting the soil. It plays a very little role in the timber industry; the same situation is valid for China, where Robinia is grown on areas of approx. 800,000 hectares, likewise as protection from erosion. Usually only small Chinese handicraft factories use this wood to a small extent, the rest is used for energy production.