Princess-tree T101805

Princess-tree Photo
Princess-tree or Royal Paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa) is a deciduous tree to 50 feet tall and 2 ft. diameter with large heart-shaped leaves.

IDENTIFICATION: Leaves have fuzzy hair on both sides. Twigs and branches stout, glossy gray-brown and speckled with numerous white dots, terminal bud absent; lateral leaf scars raised and circular (heart-shaped on resprouts) and becoming larger, dark and sunken; bark light to dark gray and roughened and becoming slightly fissured, stem pith and wood white.

Fragrant, showy pale-violet flowers in April - May, cover tree before leaves. Terminal clusters of pecan-shaped pale green capsules, 1-2 in. long and 0.6-1 in. wide, appear in summer becoming tan in winter, splitting to release many tiny winged seeds. Capsules turn black and persist until spring. Buds present on erect stalks over winter. Forms colonies from rootsprouts.

Resembles catalpa (Catalpa bignoniodes) with less hairy leaves on underside and long-slender catalpa beans that persist.

ECOLOGY: Once widely planted as an ornamental around homes. Infrequently planted in plantations. Common on roadsides and forest margins. Invades after fire and other disturbances, and in riparian areas. Colonizes by rootsprouts and spreads seeds by wind and water.

SYNONYM: Empresstree.

HERBICIDE CONTROL: For large trees, make stem injections using Arsenal AC or a glyphosate herbicide in dilutions and cut spacings specified on the herbicide label (anytime except March and April). The same herbicides can be used to cut-treat stems and stumps. For saplings, apply Garlon 4 as a 20% solution (2.5 quarts per 3-gal. mix) in commercially available basal oil, diesel fuel, or kerosene with a penetrant (check with herbicide distributor) to young bark as a basal spray. For resprouts and seedlings, apply Arsenal AC as a 1% solution (4 ounces per 3-gal. mix) or a glyphosate herbicide, Garlon 3A or Garlon 4 as 2% solutions (8 ounces per 3-gal. mix) in water with a surfactant to wet all foliage in July to October.

WARNING: Arsenal AC can damage plants with roots in the treated area. Always read and follow label directions carefully.

Source: Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests, James Miller, 2004
Photo Credit: James R. Allison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources,

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Additional Resources:
-Invasive Plant Council