Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Empress Tree
Paulownia elongata

Family: Scrophulariaceae (skrof-yoo-larr-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Paulownia (pa-LOH-nee-a) (Info)
Species: elongata (ee-long-GAH-tuh) (Info)

8 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From hardwood cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost
By air layering

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By plutodrive
Thumbnail #1 of Paulownia elongata by plutodrive

By plutodrive
Thumbnail #2 of Paulownia elongata by plutodrive

By randoo
Thumbnail #3 of Paulownia elongata by randoo

By mswestover
Thumbnail #4 of Paulownia elongata by mswestover

By mswestover
Thumbnail #5 of Paulownia elongata by mswestover

By navy1lf
Thumbnail #6 of Paulownia elongata by navy1lf

By navy1lf
Thumbnail #7 of Paulownia elongata by navy1lf

There are a total of 10 photos.
Click here to view them all!


3 positives
6 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative orchidguys On May 1, 2014, orchidguys from Lakeland, FL wrote:

My neighbor and I have struggled with these trees since we purchased them online a few years ago. We split the order between us after reading that they were suitable for zone 9b. We are located in Lakeland Florida. But the trees we have (4 total) have yet to thrive. They seem to be somewhat happy early in the spring, but then start to look bad by early summer, and stay very sickly the remainder of the year. They were shipped from Missouri. Maybe that's part of the problem. The jacaranda in my yard looks great, so maybe if these princess trees don't do any better this year I will plant some more jacarandas instead.

Positive alfu On Mar 19, 2013, alfu from Gainesville, FL wrote:

My experience with this tree has been varied. In a mail order of ten 12" seedlings, 3 died quite young, and one died at a height of 6 feet (I don't think they like nitrogen fertilizer). However, the most virorous specimen grew rapidly. Cut down to the ground in its both its first two winters, it reached over 20 feet the second season (see photo). I am now propagating this tree and have some saplings to share.

This is an amazing tree if you want quick shade or to restore damaged land, but I have had no luck growing it from seed. You can read elsewhere about its livestock feeding, honey producing and lumber providing attributes.

Positive rhondagl On Sep 5, 2012, rhondagl from Orange Park, FL wrote:

We purchased two of these trees from a well known online plant seller. They arrived in a long box-- such as a long stem rose box/ Just two sticks basicallly. At first we thought we were ripped off. We went ahead and gave them a chance planted them in two dixie cups... in good bagged planting soil and followed the directions of the company we bought them from. Sure enough, they started to grow.... and grow... we switched them out to a small pot, then the next month they needed a larger pot... until we had them in the largest planter pot we could barely pick up. Then we knew it was time to get them in the ground. That was nearly 5 yrs ago. These two trees are almost 35 ft tall now. We lost a hickory tree that provided a ton of shade on the SW side of our house. We searched online for the fastest growing shade tree available. We found it in the Royal Empress. The company we bought them from said these were sterile. No problem-- we just wanted them to provide shade as fast as they could. We have not been disapointed. They've produced the lavender blooms and we've noticed the leaves are starting to get smaller near the top of the trees, but they still have quite large leaves further down. We didnt cut this down to the ground the first year as we read on other posts. Maybe we should have.
We're thinking of topping them off this winter and hope they come back fuller. Right now both trees have 3 long straight up limbs from the base of the trees at about 12 feet ... then for the rest of the footage we have these 3 limbs..we're thinking of cutting those back when the trees lose their leaves for the winter. Those folks out there with experience with this tree... is there any hope for a more fuller tree if we do this?
We're reading that you can't hardly kill them.

Neutral monicaandkenadi On May 12, 2012, monicaandkenadi from Bolivar, MO wrote:

I planted this tree 3 years ago and have just learned that I should have cut it back the first year. Can anyone tell me if it is to late to do that and when should I cut it back?

Neutral rplb On Jun 6, 2011, rplb from Warrenton, MO wrote:

I bought one of these trees from an on-line company and it was pretty much one twig in a little bit of dirt. I think I got it 2 years ago now and I don't think it's growing like they said it would. It's just a little taller than me and I'm about 5' 6". I have not seen any Lavender blooms on it either like they said. By all means it has grown a bit since I got it but not a ton like they all say they do...What's up?

Positive Saradhvaja On Nov 27, 2010, Saradhvaja from Paradise, CA wrote:

I have three of these trees that are now two seasons old. They are all over twenty feet tall. The largest one is more than 16 inches circumference. Really amazing fast growing trees. Btw i live at an altitude of 2300 feet.

Neutral navy1lf On Sep 6, 2010, navy1lf from New Port Richey, FL wrote:

I have (2) 5' foot (2 yrs old) Empress trees that I bought as small shoots. They are not growing like they are rumored to be able to and seem to seriously struggle. We are in Zone 9 (W.Central Florida - very near the Gulf). Trying in vain to find help figuring out what to do for them.

Neutral mswestover On Oct 2, 2009, mswestover from Yulee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I bought two of them on ebay in Sept 08. Coppiced both in spring of 09. One has now grown to about twenty feet with blooms. The other has stopped growing at six feet; I will coppice it again in the spring of 2010 and see what happens. Both planted in full sun where I needed shade.

Neutral plutodrive On Aug 25, 2009, plutodrive from Denver, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

This tree can be cut to ground level annually to keep the large and ornamental leaf size, otherwise it will quickly grow into a large tree.

Neutral philotea On Sep 3, 2008, philotea from Philadelphia, PA wrote:

These volunteer very readily in abandoned lots in Philadelphia, either sun or part shade. They're rather nice looking and you certainly don't need to do anything at all to encourage them here, but they can be devastaging to building foundations.

Negative Tir_Na_Nog On Nov 2, 2007, Tir_Na_Nog from Houston
United States (Zone 9b) wrote:

The characteristics of this tree were described to me as, "fast growing bad tree... Empress Trees will drop limbs, leaves,and major hunks at all times... they are short lived too.. 20 years at best here in TX."


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Paradise, California
Gainesville, Florida
Orange Park, Florida
Panama City Beach, Florida
Yulee, Florida
Bolivar, Missouri
Conneaut, Ohio
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2015 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.

Hope for America