Paulownia tomentosa
Common name: 
Empress Tree
Royal Paulownia
Pronunciation: 
paw-LO-nee-a to-men-TO-sa
Family: 
Scrophulariaceae
Genus: 
Type: 
Broadleaf
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
No
  • Broadleaf deciduous tree, 30-60 ft (9-18 m) tall, fast growing.  Leaves opposite, simple, large broad-ovate to ovate (10-25 cm long and wide), unlobed or shallowly 3-lobed, margin entire, dark green above, dense woolly beneath (i.e., tomentose, hence tomentosa).  Flowers pale violet, foxglove-type, in 20-30 cm long panicles, vanilla-scented, appear (May) before leaves.  Brown fruits, 2-valved capsules, 3 cm long, persist during the winter.  Each fruit contains as many as 2000 small winged seeds.
  • Sun to part shade, not particular about soil or conditions.  A tree produces a large number of seeds and seedlings will grow almost anywhere, so it can become a pest.  Sometimes grown as a large-leafed shrub by cutting back to near ground level after leaf drop.  When grown this way it does not flower or fruit.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 5      Native to China.  Escaped from cultivation and considered an invasive species.   It is now found in the U.S. from southern New York to Georgia; an invasive tree in southern forests.
  • tomentosa: densely wooly; with matted hairs (a reference to the underside of the leaves).
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: two trees east of Community Hall, on either side of sidewalk.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, flowering

    plant habit, flowering

  • plant habit, summer

    plant habit, summer

  • plant habit, fall

    plant habit, fall

  • plant habit, winter

    plant habit, winter

  • flower buds (winter) and emerging flowers (spring)

    flower buds (winter) and emerging flowers (spring)

  • plant habit, flowering

    plant habit, flowering

  • flowering branches

    flowering branches

  • flower clusters

    flower clusters

  • flower

    flower

  • leaf, flower, fruit

    leaf, flower, fruit

  • plant habit, summer

    plant habit, summer

  • leaves

    leaves

  • leaves and maturing fruit

    leaves and maturing fruit

  • fruit and leaves, late summer

    fruit and leaves, late summer

  • fruit, winter

    fruit, winter

  • open fruit clusters, winter

    open fruit clusters, winter

  • fruit and seeds

    fruit and seeds

  • fruit and immature flower clusters, winter

    fruit and immature flower clusters, winter

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark

  • winter twigs, buds

    winter twigs, buds