Empress tree

Paulownia tomentosa

Photo/Illustration: 
Michelle Gervais
Photo/Illustration: 
Michelle Gervais
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Empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
pawl-OH-nee-ah toe-men-TOE-sah
Genus:  Paulownia
This deciduous tree has thick shoots and large, lobed, bright green leaves. Fragrant pinkish lilac flowers appear in late spring with the foliage. When grown as a perennial, its robust shoots become sturdy stems 2 inches in diameter, with mammoth leaves as much as 2 feet across. Paulownia tomentosa can grow to 12 feet tall in a single season.
Noteworthy Characteristics:  This native of China is naturalized in the eastern U.S. Grown as a large shade tree in milder parts of the country, it can be grown as a perennial, cutting it to the ground each spring. It tolerates polluted and poor soils.
Care:  Grow in fertile, well-drained soil and full sun. Flowers best in climates with long, hot summers.
Propagation:  From root cuttings in winter.
Problems:  Canker, dieback, powdery mildew, wood rot, and mushroom rot.

Overview

Height
10 ft. to 15 ft.
Spread
3 ft. to 6 ft.
Growth Pace
Fast Grower,
Invasive/Aggressive Grower
Light
Full Sun Only
Moisture
Dry to Medium
Characteristics
Showy Flowers,
Showy Foliage
Bloom Time
Spring
Flower Color
Pink Flower
Uses
Beds and Borders,
Flowering Tree,
Specimen Plant/Focal Point
Seasonal Interest
Spring Interest
Tolerance
Drought Tolerant
Type
Trees

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