General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet 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
Other: Leaves are fuzzy. They are huge when the plant is a young tree but decrease in size as the tree gets older.
Fruit: Showy
Other: One to two inch long, oval, 2-part capsules containing numerous tiny, winged seeds. Seeds disperse easily but few survive due to soil microbia and colonize best on disturbed sites, which is why this plant is considered a pioneer plant.
Fruiting Time: Fall
Flowers: Showy
Blooms on old wood
Other: Fragrant, growing in large panicles.
Flower Color: Lavender
Bloom Size: 2"-3"
Flower Time: Spring
Uses: Shade Tree
Flowering Tree
Will Naturalize
Useful for timber production
Edible Parts: Flowers
Eating Methods: Raw
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Other Beneficial Insects
Resistances: Pollution
Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Provide light
Self fertile
Can handle transplanting
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Pollinators: Self
Moths and Butterflies
Various insects
Containers: Not suitable for containers
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation status:
Conservation status: Least Concern
Common names
  • Empress Tree
  • Princess Tree
  • Foxglove Tree
Botanical names
  • Accepted: Paulownia tomentosa
  • Synonym: Paulownia coreana

  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Aug 2, 2019 9:43 AM concerning plant:
    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.
  • Posted by dave (Grapevine, Texas - Zone 8a) on Apr 10, 2014 10:03 AM concerning plant:
    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.
Plant Events from our members
AndreA33 On March 25, 2014 Obtained plant
Récupéré je ne sais plus ou !
WebTucker On May 13, 2022 Obtained plant
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