|Bud things || |
Fast-growing hardy tree. We grew our empress tree from seed about five years ago, and it grew into a handsome tree - but it never bloomed. The last few years it produced bud-like structures in fall, but they were always dead come spring. So the main attraction is the large, felted, tropical-looking leaves. These are late to arrive in spring, and the first to go in fall, after a hard frost - no fall foliage, unfortunately.
||Chinese empress tree
||ordinary garden soil
||easy, germinate at room temperature
After waiting for flowers in vain for several years, we decided the tree's time was up, and chopped it down, to gain a better view of the crab apple (which does bloom very reliably). Paulownias are known for returning from the roots, and are sometimes coppiced annually to promote large leaves. Sure enough, ours sprang right back into action after its trunk was severed, with amazing vigor. What's more, several additional shoots appeared at some distance from the original tree, sent up by wayward roots deprived of their source of nourishment.
|After the first good freeze, all the leaves plop off unceremoniously, exposing the tree's open structure |
|Light-colored, medium-textured bark |
|Very large furry leaves on the post-lop new growth |
|Closeup of tan buds in November after leaf drop |
|Showing how tall the tree grew by late July after being lopped in early spring |
We left this plant behind in our Pennsylvania garden (and wish it well); we don't grow it in Houston.
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PlantLinks to other web pages about Paulownia tomentosa
Visitors to this page have left the following comments
|Jeffrey||Apr 29, 2008||I recentley recieved this tree in the mail April 29, 2008 and it's 3" tall. I have the Tomentosa variety of the Royal Emprees Tree(Paulownia) and I was wondering what state or zone you live in. Because if the flower buds die on my tree due to cold weather then I will quickly throw it in the trash.|
I'm in zone 6
|George||May 18, 2008||We live in Des Moines Iowa and have expreienced the same issue. My mother wanted it for the flowers and we planted it 5 years ago and have never seen any flowers, but we like the large felty leaves and it propigates from the roots like crazy. |
|jack newbauer||Aug 20, 2008||what is the difference between 1. a paulownia tree
2. a royal paulownia tree
3. a royal empress tree
4. a chineese empress tree
or are they all the same thing. I am trying to find what is called a chinese empress tree. thank you jack newbauer
To the best of my knowledge, those are all names applied to Paulownia tomentosa, interchangeably.
|Dr J||Sep 24, 2008||This is an invasive species and as such should never be puposely planted anywhere under any circumstances in the US period!|
|Frank Gomez||Dec 11, 2008||In case you did not know, those buds will be seed pods on the next year. I had some of those pods last year, cut them down but there were no seeds in them at all. This year (November 2008) I just noticed the old buds are much larger about 1.5" in diameter, and there are new smaller buds. I cut down a branch with some of the large buds. When I cracked open one of them thousands of white seeds just floated on the air. I am now giving away many thousands of seeds seeds on GardenWeb. seed forum.
|Anne Rault||Mar 27, 2009||I agree with Dr J. I live on the east coast of Australia. My mother-in-law gave us one of these.We planted it near the chookhouse and it looked like it would lift the concrete floor after about five years. So we chopped it down and it just shot out of the stump. Alan built a fire in the trunk and this had no impact. It is now comming up all over the place close to the original tree. You only have to take yours eyes off it for a second and it is two metres tall. Don't plant it anywhere in Australia or it will end up like the dreaded tobacco plant. An absolute feral pest!!|
|Juba||Aug 30, 2009||The flowers won't usually come out for 10-15 years if it is gorn from seed. And it is not invasive everywhere in the US. It is not a plant it and forget it tree though, if you don't take care of it the first few years it will look trashy until it becomes about 10 years old and it is a wonderful tree.|
|Vlad||Apr 21, 2010||What is the difference between Paulownia Elongata, Paulownia tomentosa, etc? They all look the same to me, at least from the pictures. I planted a Paulownia this year and I would like to know how can I determine what kind of Paulownia it is (I got the little tree from someone who does not know what kind of Paulownia he has and he does not care either as long as it is BIG!) . |
|Skylar||Apr 24, 2010||There are many subspecies of the Paulownia Tree, most are similar, but certain have different qualities. Paulownia Elongata is the fastest growing natural breed, that can grow in excess of 50 to 80 feet, but can be a little bit unstable and is not a safe tree in a residential area. The flowers are a cherry tree pink color. Paulownia Tomentosa is the most cold hardy tree, so if you live farther north, this is the best one to plant, and has a pinkish white bloom. Farther south, this tree is the most invasive, so any coastal or mid Atlantic area should not plant this tree. It grows about 30-50 feet. Paulownia Kawakamaii will grow about 30-40 feet tall, it will have a pink white colored spray of blooms (my favorite type) but it grows better farther south, and is not as invasive.
Any paulownia can only be guaranteed to thrive in area zone 6 and south, zone 5 it may grow, though sometimes it may die back on it's smallest branches and the cold may kill the flower buds sometimes. (Usually once it gets to around 0 degrees Fahrenheit) Anywhere north, it is hard to be sure it will survive the winter and is best to plant for just having the tropical looking leaves during the summer and fast growth. These are the Latin names, and each tree has many English names, that are applied to many different species.
As Juba said, this is no plant it and forget it tree. Only get this if you have time to take extensive care of it. Otherwise, it will become a trash tree that will be dropping dirty leafs and branches in the slightest wind or storm if you don't help it become its best. But, in my mind, the reward is worth the effort.|
|Vlad||May 06, 2010||Thank you, comrade Skylar, for you extensive informations! I live in Romania and even if there are not many Paulownia trees here, those I have seen have grown quite big in 3-5 years without any care from their planters. Maybe they were lucky.|
|steve||May 22, 2010||mine tree was cut to the stump when i bought my house in 06. i didnt know what it was it even had spikes driven into stump,the first year it grew to 18 feet tall,i cut it down tothe stump,every year it grows 20 plus feet the leaves are as big as a 32 gallon garbage lid, this year I let it be and now its already has grow about 3 feet its almost 25 feet tall and has fresh starts from the base again everone in my neighborhood stops and looks at this crazy tree,over the last four years new ones have started to grow on the other side of my double driveway and now has also started another about 15 feet away.really a cool plant/tree love to watch it grow.|
|Justin||Oct 19, 2011||Paulowinia is often wrongly considered an invasive species. It has many useful properties and often thrown on the ban wagon of invasive bad species. Personally I feel this is a wrongful accusation and it should be much more appreciated in the day and age when man himself is the most invasive of all species. This invasive species xenophobia really must stop. Paulowinas feed my cattle and enrich the soil sending roots 14 feet down. I appreciated it very much.|
|Barry||Apr 06, 2012||My Paulownia (grown from the tinest seedling EVER) has just bloomed, after the mildest winter and the earliest spring we've had (here in Chicago) for a LONG time. My advice would be to enjoy it for the leaves and shade and, every once in a while, you WILL get the beautiful flowers!|
|Barry||Apr 06, 2012||Forgot to mention, my tree is 6 years old.... I cut it to the ground the first 2 years, and then let it go.... it is about 30' tall now.....|
|Barbara||Apr 13, 2012||My new trees(planted from seedlings 7/11)came up beautifully this spring. We had a frost 4/10/12 and they are now all wilted like a tomato would die from frost. Will they come back? Will they have to grow from the root again? Thx|
If they were last year's seedlings and had a decent root system, I think there's a good chance they'll regrow. Good luck.
|Penny||Apr 23, 2012||While visiting in Kentucky in the Beverly/Manchester area, I thought I saw the Paulownia tree on the mountainside. It was the first week in April and the flowers were more purple than pink. A local thought it might be a cucumber/broadleaf magnolia from the way I described it. I don't think so. Help!|
|kamal||Sep 01, 2012||i live in saudi arabia, do you think i can groew paulownia, temp can reach to 40c in the shadow. thank you|
I have no idea - that's too far from my experience and climate.
|Vann||Sep 29, 2012||I live in the mountains of North Carolina. The Empress Tree grows very large along the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge. In March and April, the purple flowers open in abundance, and the delicate fragrance fills the air. I have a tree in my woods that blooms beautifully, and produces hard pods in summer. So far, I have uet to find another tree within a quarter mile of this one. The temperature never reaches "0" F here, and the large leaves always fall after the first hard freeze. Last April, there was a late frost while the tree was in bloom, and it produced no pods. Now, the tree is covered with more tan buds than I've ever seen before. Chimney Rock State Park has one of the largest Empress Trees I've seen in this area. The very white wood is prized in China as the material of wedding boxes containing gifts. This tree is now about 30 feet tall. |
|Val||Apr 15, 2013||Well, I have to chime in. I live in San Diego County...slightly inland from the beach (15 miles). I went to a nursery in 2004 and asked for the fastest growing tree he had. It was in a 5 gal pot and about 2 feet tall. I've not had the problems others have outlined. I'd have to go back and look at my pictures to see when I got flowers...but seems like they were early on. Get many comments on the tree and how beautiful it is. Just this past month it got it's full compliment of beautiful flowers..they're dropping off now and the huge green leaves are starting to emerge. Tree is upwards of 30 feet and gives the most beautiful shade. Those pods drop every year with tons of tiny white seeds inside. I've never had a new tree start from these seeds nor have I seen evidence of any neighbor who has one of these trees start up in their yard. I love this tree!!|
|Gary H||Aug 09, 2014||My Paulownia top 1/3 top has died over the harsh winter we had. there are other branches throughout the tree that have also died. should I have the tree trimmed and wait to see if it comes back or have it downed? I still have new sprouts trying to grow from the roots and I am cutting them back at this time. I love the tree and don't want to give up on it. Thanks for any help.|
I'm afraid I don't have specific knowledge over how it should be pruned after frost damage. If it's large enough that you're concerned over how it comes down, you should consult an arborist.
|dean||Aug 24, 2014||the top few feet of my tree died off as well. it has other leaves all over that grow but the main stock is not getting any bigger around.. I did chop another tree to the ground this past Feb or march and its now about 14 feet tall.|
|Patti||Oct 20, 2014||was just given a good specimen of the paulownia tomentosa, from East Texas, I live in the 'Hill Country" of Texas, my main concern after reading not IF it will grow here, but is there any need to be worried about goats eating the seed pods, leaves/bark. I am thinking I want to put this near my corrals for shade, but if it is a danger to livestock, I'll find a place near my fenced yard. Thank you.|
|WayneM||Feb 24, 2015||In case you heard otherwise, Paulownia is native to North America.
This is what science says. It's in the fossil record.
|kc||May 05, 2015||I planted tomentosa seedling in spring 2014. It only grew 6 inches, but thick trunk developed. Im in zone 5. Nothing happening with plant yet....no buds, no growth. Seems to be rooted still (cant pull out easily). Is it dead, or should I keep waiting?|
Be patient. I expect that it will yet put up growth, though it may be from the roots.
|love this tree||Jun 21, 2015||we got a type of this plant is very slender. it finally bloomed this year after 3 years the buds where not all over the tree just on the mid lower branches and know have formed seeds (which i am going to plant).how tall is it im going to say its every bit of 40 feet with about a 10 inch diameter trunk.|
|Yowie||Oct 10, 2015||Kamal - I live in Melbourne, Australia. We get a few frosts every winter, and our temperatures can reach 45 degrees in summer. There's a massive Paulownia Tomentosa in my garden. We do however get lots of rain and we have excellent soil here. You can but try.
|Claudette||Feb 06, 2016||I live in northern Nevada, I planted seeds around mid-January indoor, under a cool light in a warm room. Within 8 day the leaves sprouted, they are so tiny no bigger than a pin head. This is Feb 6th-2016 and they still have not grown any bigger or produced any other leaves. Do you think they may survive?|
It's been many years since I grew paulownias from seed, so I don't remember how they developed. I wouldn't be surprised if they take a while to get going. Make sure to give them plenty of light (keep the lights just barely above their pots) and don't overwater. Good luck!
|nikita88||Feb 09, 2016||Eradication strategies:
Cut down the tree and paint the stump immediately with a 1:1 mixture of water and glyphosate or triclopyr. This usually stops regrowth. Small trees may be controlled by spraying the leaves with a mixture of 200 mL of glyphosate or triclopyr plus 25 mL wetting agent in 10 litres of water.
Seedlings can be manually removed providing all the root system is removed.
Larger trees can be ring barked, but regrowth from the base of the stump is common. Repeated removal of these sprouts will eventually exhaust the rot system after several years. Alternatively the regrowth can be sprayed.
Basal bark spraying of the lower 500 mm of trunk with 1 part triclopyr in 3 parts diesel is effective at any time of the year.|
|AngelDv1109||Mar 29, 2016||I am looking to buy a Paulownia Tomentosa tree to have seeds too replant, I live in zone 6b. I have recently purchased the Elongata.
|Dolly Best||Apr 03, 2016||My tree is about 12 to 15 feet. It was planted last year. It has "nodes" at the very top. Will this keep the tree from growing? Should I cut the nodes and/or the tree?|
I don't think the features you're describing will harm the tree's growth. If you envision the tree growing as a tall shade tree, then just leave it be. If you aim to keep it shorter, then you can cut it back hard and it will regrow from the base.
|Joe||May 11, 2016||Thank you all for the info. I have the oposite of a green thumb and can't get anything to grow on my property probably due to the Trinity Site Where the World's First Nuclear Device Was Exploded on July 16, 1945! The dirt here is like powder and turns rock hard when dry and mush when wet. I'm hoping this tree will be the answer to my prayers for some shade and beauty. I would like the biggest tree and leaves without sacrificing the flowers. Is it true if it's cut down after the first and second year that it will no longer give flowers? Also how and when should this tree be cared for? Is cutting down this tree in the first two years the only way to get a tall straight trunk? TIA|
I hadn't heard that advice before. I think mine grew pretty tall and straight without being cut back in the first years. Not sure about the flowering habit, since I never got mine to properly flower. However, I'm not aware of any trees that have a memory like that, refusing to flower if they've been cut back in youth. Good luck getting it established and beautiful!
|Matt||Oct 08, 2016||We have planted Kawakamii, Elongata, and Fortunei on our property in a limestone canyon area of Central Texas. There is very little soil above the limestone ledges and bluffs. Droughts are frequent. It is a challenge to get any tree to survive here. In challenging conditions such as ours, no tree reaches the mature height listed. So if we get one to climb to 40 feet, we consider it a miracle. Our Paulownia trees have provided shade to our home and gardens. The honey and bumble bees and hummingbirds have three 20-30 trees full of flowers and nectar each spring. We had never seen a bumble bee until after we planted the Paulownia trees. In fact they prefer the Paulownia tree spring blooms and the summer blooms of our wild spearmint patch to any of the "preferred" nectar sources (agastache, butterfly bush, etc.) promoted by gardening sites. We've learned over the years that even the most hardy "full sun" rated plant has difficulty surviving our 100+ temps, low humidity, and windy conditions. The Paulownia trees provide upper story shade without the pests and litter of our ash junipers making it possible to grow plants that would not survive otherwise. The deer eat the Paulownia leaves. And the birds seem to like the trees. The hummingbirds, warblers, cardinals, finches, and buntings all perch in the trees. The Paulownia wood is beautiful and easy to work. I've used it on a couple of woodworking projects. If we had more acreage and better water source, we'd plant a section of Paulownia trees for wood production. Our experience is that the trees spread more from shallow roots than from seed pods. Any small trees that sprout are easily controlled. We have cut the sprout root away from original trees and monitored the "sprout" trees to see how they compare to our original trees that were obtained from a reliable grower of prime paulownia trees. Our trees were tissue-cultured, greenhouse grown, and shipped in pots as small plants. Some vendors sell seed sprouted trees that may not be as hardy. We've monitored the "sprout" trees for a couple of years and they definitely are inferior in comparison to our original purchased trees. It is hard for us to envision how these trees could be invasive in our area. They do not seem to be having negative effect on the native trees of ash junipers and scrub oak. |
|Philip||Jan 09, 2017||I live in Colombia at 2600m high, does P.tomentosa grow here?, any advice would be apreciated, thank you.|
|Krafty Kim||May 13, 2017||Has anyone else experienced bumble bees gorging on the P. tomentosa to the extent of drowsiness and death?? We live in Brittany, France and when it is in flower are constantly picking up bees either "drunk" or sadly dead. This really upsets us as the bee is endangered anyway and would hate to think that the tree is toxic to them. It is beautiful but .......|
Ours never bloomed, so I've had no chance to observe – I'm curious if others have witnessed it.
|Bob||May 31, 2017||My PT is now about 30 ft. tall. It finally flowered last spring and was beautiful. This spring, I still have most of the seed pods still on the tree. Will these drop off eventually? It hindered this springs flowering to top and a few side spots. I'm thinking from all the bad press, I may try and take this tree out, but that sounds like next to impossible! Western Michigan.|
|Ed||Apr 20, 2019||I had no difficulty sprouting my paulownia seeds under lights and heat. I notice that the leaves have serrated edges, and my guess is that these are the elongata species, as the tomentosa species seem not to have serrated leaf edges. Would this be a reliable way to determine at least these two species, or are there others with serrated edges?|
|Gene Orndorff||Jun 01, 2019||Our empress tree has been dropping healthy leaves most of the spring. It did produce flowers, but the seed pods died before producing seeds. The tree is in bad shaped and has lost most of its canopy.|
I'm sorry to hear that. I hope it recovers. You may want to lop it off completely and allow it to regrow from the base if its current form is too badly compromised.
|Rob||Oct 27, 2019||This tree in not invasive. Dr. J is clueless...a guy who has clearly never planted one, and who is obviously very proud of his opinion. We planted these around a coral for horses to provide shade. Within 8 years we had beautiful 40' tall trees, about a foot in diameter. They are no more invasive than sweet gum trees. Get a grip Dr. J...information you read on the internet is not always correct. |
|May ||Jun 26, 2020||We bought a Paulownia from the website fastest growing trees. They are not available from this nursery year round because they are raised as clones from a specimen tree. I don't know how this process is done but we won't have an empress tree that propogates all over the neighborhood. They ship them out every year but you must put in your name/email and they'll notify you when they're available. After 2.5 years, ours is over 20 feet tall. We live in the San Fernando Valley in CA. Very hot during the summer. No flowers yet. But that's ok, because we got it for the shade value. I read that if you cut it back every year, you'll continue to get the huge leaves. If you leave it alone, the leaves become smaller but you will get blossoms. |
|random75||Jan 07, 2021||If you really need to plant a Paulownia, plant the Elongata variety instead. It isn't invasive.|
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