SOLVED: Plant or Weed?

Prince Frederick, MD

I have this plant that suddenly started growing last year and came back again this year. It is growing rapidly and I like it, but people tell me it just a weed. It looks like some sort of elephant ear plant. Can someone please tell me if this is a plant, and if so, what kind? I don't want to cut it down (even though it's not in a good place for a huge plant to grow), but several people have told me I should because it does not look right and it's "just a weed."

Thanks! =)

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Raleigh, NC(Zone 7b)

Paulownia tomentosa

Prince Frederick, MD

HA! Thank you! =)
Before I get too happy, I should ask:
Is it an actual plant (someone would grow), or a random weed that would sprout up anywhere?

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Prince Frederick, MD

I thought it might be


Raleigh, NC(Zone 7b)

It's up to you. Paulownia tomentosa is not native to the US and is considered invasive in some areas. On the plus side, it's fast-growing and has attractive purple flowers in late spring. On the negative side, it's not that pretty after flowering and may sprout where you don't want it to.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

and it's a tree that can get over 40' tall:

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Definitely one to remove, that close to the house! High risk of root damage to the foundations if it is left to grow to full size.


Prince Frederick, MD

Thanks y'all! I guess I will have to cut it down or move it ;-(
I dont have a green thumb by any means so I was excited to watch (what I thought was an elephant ear) this plant/tree grow so rapidly. I would like to see how tall it will grow, but it is in bad spot. Thanks for the insight! I looked it up and found that they originated in China, are known as a Princess Tree, and should have "pale violet, fragrant flowers open in the spring"
Mine has never had any flowers though?? []


Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Yours could be too young--I don't think I've seen them blooming until they're more tree-sized. Also, I don't know what zone you're in, but in zones ~5-6 the top growth dies back every winter but the roots don't die and it resprouts from the base each year. When this happens, it won't bloom either.

Fairfax, VA(Zone 7a)

Princess Tree/Pawlonia will get very large if you let it. Up to 60 feet tall, says NPS. On the plus side, if you cut it sharply back, it may reward you with enormous, tropical-looking leaves. I have heard that some gardeners like this effect, and whack it every year or so.

Traditionally it is used to make dowry boxes for Japanese girls. A disease had gone through Japan and wiped out many of them, which caused a huge increase in the price of the wood. So for a while Americans whose yards contained large ones would arrive home and discover that a thief had cut down & carted off the whole tree.

Langley, Canada

There must be different varieties due to 'Needs to be grown from cuttings, not from seed' vs '2 million seeds per tree - all viable'.
I live in BC south coast - neighbour planted 1 each in front & back yards about 7 years ago.
1 After 5 years starts flowering followed by masses of seed pods full of tiny seeds which germinate in my yards.
2 All leaves fall in winter covering the ground. Lots of clean-up.
3 Subject to limb breakage.
4 Be aware of very rapid growth to 45 feet or more.
5 Reports of adventitious root sprouting & being very hard to eliminate.
1 Showy flowers (after several years) are prolific and pleasant smelling.
2 Reported to be impervious to insect & other attacks.
3 Grows rapidly in height and girth.
Photos are of my yards

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