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Paulownia Tomentosa, also Empress Tree, Foxglove Tree and Princess Tree Deciduous Paulownia Tomentosa is known by a variety of names including the Foxglove Tree, the Princess Tree and the Empress Tree. Exceptionally hardy, it grows in almost any type of soil, tolerates drought well, and has no real insect or disease problems. The Paulownia Tomentosa easily withstands temperature drops down to -26 °C. The tree’s show-stopping pale purple flower display is what makes it a highly coveted tree in any garden or landscape.
Empress Trees grow rapidly to a height of 9 to 19 meters. The leaves are large and showy. Each one measures up to 15 to 40 centimetres long and 10 to 13 centimetres wide. The leaves are a soft green with a brighter green underside.
During April to May, before the foliage starts to emerge, Paulownia Tomentosa begins to produce an abundance of flower clusters that measure 15 to 30 centimetres. The intoxicatingly fragrant bell-shaped flowers appear in shades of pale violet. Inside each flower head are faint stripes of yellow that stand out in sharp contrast against the bloom's soft purple hue.
Following flowering, Paulownia Tomentosa creates clusters of seed pods that measure 4 centimetres. Each seed pod can contain up to 2,000 seeds. In the autumn, the pods open to disperse their plentiful winged seeds. After releasing their seeds, the pods remain on the tree into the winter months to add visual interest. Interestingly, one mature empress tree is capable of producing up to 20 million winged seeds that are carried far and wide by the winds.
The Paulownia Tomentosa is a native tree of western and central China. The tree was first brought to Europe by the Dutch East India Company in the 1830s where it rapidly gained popularity and was soon growing in gardens across the continent. In recent years, the trees have started to be commercially farmed on tree farms where they are grown for their highly profitable wood which is used by the Japanese for a wide array of uses.
If you are seeking a carefree, hardy ornamental tree that produces an abundance of fragrant blooms then Paulownia Tomentosa tree might be your ideal choice. The Empress Tree is an excellent tree option for a beginning gardener or an experienced gardening enthusiast who is seeking an eye-catching flowering tree that requires only minimal care to flourish.