Empress Tree (Paulownia tomentosa)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Empress Tree
Give a thumbs up Princess Tree
Give a thumbs up Foxglove Tree

Botanical names:
Paulownia tomentosa Accepted
Paulownia coreana Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet Mesic
Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 5b -26.1 °C (-15 °F) to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 10a
Plant Height: 30-40 feet or more
Leaves: Deciduous
Broadleaf
Fruit: Showy
Other: One to two inch long, oval, 2-part capsules containing numerous tiny, winged seeds.
Fruiting Time: Fall
Flowers: Showy
Fragrant
Blooms on old wood
Flower Color: Lavender
Pink
Bloom Size: 2"-3"
Flower Time: Spring
Uses: Shade Tree
Flowering Tree
Will Naturalize
Useful for timber production
Wildlife Attractant: Other Beneficial Insects
Resistances: Pollution
Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Provide light
Self fertile
Pollinators: Various insects
Containers: Not suitable for containers
Miscellaneous: Monoecious

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Comments:
Posted by dave (Jacksonville, Texas - Zone 8b) on Apr 10, 2014 10:03 AM

These are fast growing trees that produce beautiful purple blooms in the spring (mine is blooming right now.) The wood is unbelievably lightweight and is useful in furniture making. Twenty years is considered the time it takes for it to get to harvestable size.

Some people grow them and cut them back every year, allowing it to grow an interesting habit that resembles a sunflower! But it won't bloom like that, of course.

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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Aug 2, 2019 9:43 AM

This Royal Paulownia or Empress-Tree from China is similar to a Catalpa tree. Some classify it in the same Bignoniaceae Family as the Catalpa and others in the Scrophulariaceae that includes snapdragons. It is a fast growing tree of 3 to 4 feet/year, and a cut trunk can sprout and regrow to 8 to 10 feet/year. However, it is brittle and weak wooded, subject very easily to storm damage, plus it is very messy with dropping its big leaves, spent flowers, fruit, and dead twigs and branches. Its favorite feature is the pale violet flowers with darker spots and yellow stripes inside that resemble foxglove flowers in April-May for two weeks before the leaves, in panicle clusters 8 to 12 inches long, and having a vanilla-like scent. The flower buds are formed during the summer before blooming the next spring. The brown dehiscent capsule fruits persist and contain up to 2,000 tiny winged seeds. It is offered by quite a few cheap mail order nurseries. I've never seen it in my native northeast Illinois in USDA Zone 5a of the 1990 map. Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL, reported in the 1980's that those planted there die to the ground most winters. They don't have any listed there now. I see it occasionally planted in a few landscapes in southeast Pennsylvania, but I see more having escaped cultivation and being an invasive tree along woodland borders or in pioneer tree forests. I have heard of some people growing a small plantation of this species to harvest its wood that is valued by Japanese and Chinese people to make bowls, pots, spoons, furniture, and coffins. Otherwise, it is not a good quality tree; better to stick with Catalpa that also is very messy.

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Plant Events from our members
AndreA33 On March 25, 2014 Obtained plant
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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Does anyone know what this plant is called? by starlina Sep 18, 2019 4:50 PM 2
Can not identify strange tree in local park! by TreeNoob Jul 31, 2019 7:10 AM 2
Help identifying trees by escrime99 Aug 1, 2019 12:57 PM 9
Tree & fruit id request: NY, large heart shaped leaves, apricot shaped fruit by ilgar Jul 29, 2019 2:47 AM 2
What is this by Meg19971 Jul 15, 2019 5:22 PM 2
Unidentified Tree by Altheus May 30, 2019 8:33 AM 13
Mystery giant plant by seren Oct 7, 2018 10:49 PM 2
Confused about the seeds I collected! (Empress Tree?!) by Confused_gardener Sep 20, 2018 2:08 AM 6
Can you help me identify this strange tree in my yard? by hallacymiran Sep 14, 2018 2:31 PM 4
What is this plant? by jpinojai Aug 11, 2018 1:29 PM 3

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