Paulownia Species, Empress Tree, Princess Tree

Paulownia tomentosa

Family: Paulowniaceae
Genus: Paulownia (pa-LOH-nee-a) (Info)
Species: tomentosa (toh-men-TOH-suh) (Info)
Synonym:Bignonia tomentosa
Synonym:Paulownia coreana
Synonym:Paulownia grandifolia
Synonym:Paulownia imperialis
Synonym:Paulownia recurva
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:



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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone



Bloom Color:

Medium Purple

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Lincoln, (258 reports)

Pelham, Alabama

Salem, Alabama

Vincent, Alabama

Anthem, Arizona

Chandler Heights, Arizona

Chuichu, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Tempe, Arizona

Batesville, Arkansas

Blytheville, Arkansas

Cord, Arkansas

Deer, Arkansas

Fox, Arkansas

Altadena, California

Amesti, California

Concow, California

Corralitos, California

Elkhorn, California

Fair Oaks, California

Garden Grove, California

Grass Valley, California

Hughson, California

Interlaken, California

Lower Lake, California

Oroville, California

Pajaro, California

Reseda, California

Richmond, California

San Diego, California

San Leandro, California

Thermalito, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Watsonville, California

Danielson, Connecticut

Waterford, Connecticut

Bartow, Florida

Crestview, Florida

Dunnellon, Florida

Fountain, Florida

Green Cove Springs, Florida

Hernando, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Milton, Florida

Sanford, Florida

Commerce, Georgia

Conyers, Georgia

Danielsville, Georgia

Monroe, Georgia

Valdosta, Georgia(2 reports)

Huntley, Illinois

New Lenox, Illinois

Winnetka, Illinois

Derby, Kansas

Olathe, Kansas

Barbourville, Kentucky

Corbin, Kentucky

Upton, Kentucky

Crowley, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Brookeville, Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland

Ellicott City, Maryland(2 reports)

Valley Lee, Maryland

Groveland, Massachusetts

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Detroit, Michigan

Natchez, Mississippi

Holts Summit, Missouri

Saint Clair, Missouri

Helena, Montana

Norfolk, Nebraska

Neptune, New Jersey

Trenton, New Jersey

Albany, New York

Bronx, New York

Brooklyn, New York

Schenectady, New York

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Columbus, North Carolina

Dobson, North Carolina

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Rutherfordton, North Carolina

Saxapahaw, North Carolina

Bucyrus, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Franklin, Ohio

Mason, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Jay, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Shawnee, Oklahoma

Stilwell, Oklahoma

Grants Pass, Oregon

Portland, Oregon(9 reports)

Tangent, Oregon

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Greencastle, Pennsylvania

Hanover, Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

West Grove, Pennsylvania

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Conway, South Carolina

Loris, South Carolina(2 reports)

Cleveland, Tennessee

Collinwood, Tennessee

Gainesboro, Tennessee

Lenoir City, Tennessee

Newport, Tennessee

Pocahontas, Tennessee

White House, Tennessee

Athens, Texas

Austin, Texas(2 reports)

Canadian, Texas

El Paso, Texas

Garland, Texas

Hempstead, Texas

Hereford, Texas

Kendalia, Texas

Killeen, Texas

Kyle, Texas

Manvel, Texas

Mc Kinney, Texas

Spring Branch, Texas

Salt Lake City, Utah

Urbanna, Virginia

Bainbridge Island, Washington

Cashmere, Washington

Fall City, Washington

Felida, Washington

Graham, Washington

Highland, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Falling Waters, West Virginia

Horner, West Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 20, 2021, MarlaB from Eola, OR wrote:

This plant appeared last year in my front yard, right alongside my house. I cut it down, but of course grew back because I didnt remove the root. I know its considered very invasive, but Ive been letting it grow, because I love the big Alice in wonderland like leaves. Its right outside my office window. Ive been liberally cutting it to keep it from blooming or growing larger than my window. What Im wondering is - can I continue to do that indefinitely? I would keep it from blooming however I imagine that root would continue to grow and since its right next to my house Im worried about the foundation. My intention is to cut it down completely every fall and enjoy the fast growing, big green leaves during the summer, and cut it down again, etc. But not if its going to damage my fo... read more


On Apr 7, 2021, RandyAllen from White House, TN wrote:

Ive been studying this tree since 1967. Analyzing Tennessee and Kentucky forests. Since 1967 Ive been told by foresters, professors, and native plant enthusiasts that this is a horrible invasive plant. In Tennessee and Kentucky Ive found it does not threaten our native forests. In 2nd growth forests, almost non existent. In 3rd growth forests very few are found. In 4th and 5th growth forests it begins to be noticeable, in some pockets. It is most commonly seen where humans have developed land for human use, like along roadsides, in cities, and where humans have selectively raped the forest for the best trees for generations. It is an interesting tree with some positives, like the wood value, the beauty and aesthetics of a well managed specimen. An option to those who are afraid... read more


On Oct 21, 2020, nyy_ct119 from Waterford, CT wrote:

Highly invasive in the coastal northeast (zones 6b+). Great flowers, but chokes out native plants. I think this is now banned for sale in Connecticut.


On Sep 14, 2020, Aiwen from Bella Vista, AR wrote:

This is an invasive species and should not be planted!


On Sep 14, 2020, NCMstGardener from Columbus, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Be careful with this tree!
It spreads seeds profusely so be alert for unwanted seedlings. Many consider it invasive.
As the tree ages, the leaves become smaller so I suggest you cut it to the ground each year. This will give you large leaves each year. It is a fast grower so you will see a 15-20 foot tree even if you cut it back. The wood is soft and the tree is early damaged by the wind so if you cut it back that will also minimize damage. I don't think the blooms smell good. There are many many better trees


On Apr 26, 2020, Pbechdel from Cave Creek, AZ wrote:

Hello, i really need some help on my tree. I have a 35-40 ft. princess tree and it has never had a problem before but this year its really having issues. The tree didnt bloom this year and the leaves started coming out on the bottom half of the tree but has taken weeks to start leafing around the top of the tree and currently not completely leafed out.
The leaves are curling outward and are not large like they have been in previous years.
I fertilized last fall but we did get quite a bit of rain this winter.
I have went to many nurseries and they dont know what the problem is. Please help


On Mar 24, 2020, pacostacos from Seattle, WA wrote:

Be very careful when considering this tree. It grows EXTREMELY fast. Do not plant near house or any structures that you don't want mangled by elephant foot sized roots. I am in the process of removing a 10 year old tree. The tree rings on the stump are at least 1/2" wide indicating a phenomenal growth rate. As I dig underneath I am horrified to find foot-wide roots diving straight down into the ground. I really hope I don't have a sucker problem from the roots left in the ground but from what I have read I can expect years of misery long after the stump is pulled. This tree is NOT worth it unless you can plant it far, far away from your house.


On Feb 21, 2019, rooyak from SANNOIS,
France wrote:

Paulownia is one of the fastest growing trees in the world, capable of growth rates of well over seven feet per year as a seedling! But while its highly appreciated and cultivated in Asia and Rooyak, Paulownia has come to be considered an invasive species in the United States.


On May 11, 2017, MTVineman from Glenwood, MN (Zone 5a) wrote:

I bought one of these tree's thinking it would never grow in our climate here in Helena, Montana. It was about 1 1/2 feet tall and in a black, plastic container. I figured it would grow for the season, I'd get to see the gigantic leaves and it would die that Winter. Well! Was I ever wrong! I had never even removed the tree from it's gallon plastic container and the next Spring, when I went to pick up the "dead" tree, so I could reuse the container, I received a very interesting surprise. The Empress Tree had rooted through the holes in the bottom of the container and was happily living and leafed right back out as Spring wore on. Now, I have about a 12 to 15 foot tall tree! No evidence of self propagation yet and I would seriously be surprised if it did propagate itself here. But, then aga... read more


On Jul 17, 2016, TammieMorehead from Canadian, TX wrote:

I love this tree! I need to know if I can put Preen Weed Preventer plus Plant Food around it?


On May 26, 2016, mysticwolf from Melbourne,
Australia wrote:

I'm very excited, I just brought the seeds off eBay, I'm in Melbourne Australia and I have no experience with this tree but I am very excited to get it. What is the best growing method for growing from seeds? Do I pot them an put them in my greenhouse? Will it be too hot in there? It's almost winter in Melbourne so it shouldn't get to hot at all, so excited!


On Jan 5, 2016, siege2055 from Stilwell, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Hmmm, starting to wonder if it was wise to plant these lol. I started 3 from seed, planted one, and it got about 3 feet tall with big leaves the first year from a seedling the size of a pinhead. I left the other two out in pots as I could not figure out where to plant them and the cold killed the tops. I brought them in, took the plants out of the pots and made root cuttings. All 10 root cuttings made new little sprouts in a little over a WEEK! lol. I intend on coppicing these as I want the big leaves and dont feel its a good idea to let them seed everywhere around here. But after seeing how fast the roots sucker, I am a bit scared now lol.


On Jun 18, 2015, Misskristine from Kyle, TX wrote:

I have three Paulownia Tomentosa tree's growing in my yard, all of which I planted myself. The first one I planted when I found out my daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild...and now, both tree and grand-daughter are 4 years old. Gabbi is now 43 inches tall, and the tree is over 35 feet tall. I have had no issues with invasiveness from the root system or the prolific seed pods that are produced every year.

I have been thinking a lot about these trees as they grow so incredibly fast and require very little water. (We have been in a drought for 5 years). I'm curious about the cellulose content of the wood? Coming from an environmental perspective, it seems like these trees would be a renewable/sustainable source for woody biomass (specifically for wood pellets) in ... read more


On May 3, 2015, teddiinfl from Lake Helen, FL wrote:

This very invasive tree is in my neighbor's yard, (the house is for sale & the owner doesn't live there & is very nasty), right against my fence. Its root system has come under the fence and it is taking over my yard! The roots are huge, and nothing kills them completely. I have tried Roundup on the shoots that come up from the roots, to the tune of 5 gallons over the year. The roots put out a mat of roots that is strangling out everything in my yard - raised vegetable beds, container pots with veggies, cacti that have been in the ground for 15 years. I patrol the yard at least 3 times daily, and every time find new shoots coming up. I now carefully dig around the shoot & try to expose the root, which I then scrape off the outer covering & PAINT Roundup or 5050 EZ Weed Zapper on. If I brea... read more


On Feb 24, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The light lavender flowers don't show up well against blue sky.

This tree self-sows aggressively here in Massachusetts, though I don't see it in the wild here as often as in the mid-Atlantic states.

BONAP reports that it's naturalized in the US from Massachusetts and New York south to Florida and west to Illinois and Texas---also in Washington and Oregon.

Connecticut has banned the sale, purchase, transport, and planting of this species, because it is invasive and damaging to natural habitat.

The link in the comment below reports that a member of the genus was once present in Washington state millions of years ago and was wiped out there by the Pleistocene glaciation. This says nothing about the trees in N. America today, all des... read more


On Feb 24, 2015, WayneM from Tonawanda, NY wrote:

For those of you who are unsure, Paulownia is native to North America. You may see the constant refrain that it is an invasive species from the Far East (China). It's not.

The fossil record is clear.


On Sep 4, 2014, patsdogs from Shawnee, OK wrote:

I'm giving it a neutral rating ONLY because we have a lot of space (6 acres) with a lot of open countryside around and we lost a lot of other trees to the tornado. I may be able to use the paulownia to fill in some of the empty slots and gaps along the rear property line and hope they fill in quickly, but that's the only reason I'd give it less than a negative. Even so, I have to wonder if I'm creating a monster. I need to really think about deliberately planting another one. Is it worth the risk of it taking over the free world?

When I bought the original seedlings, the web site played it up as being a beautiful, fast growing ornamental that is hard to start. Thus the high price. Are they kidding??? My daughter had seen them growing wild all over the east coast, aroun... read more


On Jun 10, 2014, Deltaboy from Belzoni, MS wrote:

This past weekend, I planted two tiny 4" seedlings of this plant on my front yard. I've read that they are ugly limbless bean poles for a while. Can this plant be topped to encourage it to put on branches and spread out?


On Feb 18, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

Royal Paulownia is a very fast growing, about 3 feet/year, tree that is very messy with dead wood, falling twigs and branches and big flowers and leaves, and it is brittle-wooded and subject easily to storm damage. It is not for the refined residential yard. It is a tropical looking plant like the similar looking Catalpa. It is sold a lot by cheap mail order nurseries that sell some really cool stuff, but also messy junk plants too. They like to market it with a pretty name of "Empress Tree" and exaggerate the picture with bigger, more purple flowers. Unfortunately, it has escaped cultivation in southeast Pennsylvania in various spots and does not blend well with the native forest, like the noxious Tree-of-Heaven, also from China, and should have stayed there.


On Aug 24, 2013, msgarden1 from Eldersburg, MD wrote:

HATE HATE HATE this tree! Limbs frequently break off. Leaves do not readily decompose. MUST have gutters covered with leaf guard. One leaf can clog gutters, etc.causing water overflow. Nuisance tree. Should not be allowed in close residential areas.


On Jul 21, 2013, fabricquarter from Portland, OR wrote:

This tree is magnificent. Every spring, for 7 years now I break off all but three growth points, and pinch out any branching that might start. All summer long the three branches are covered in huge leaves, fifteen to twenty inches across, In winter when the leaves have fallen I cut it back to the ground or a foot above. The three branches I cut off I use for my bean teepee in spring. Usually they range from 10 to 15 feet long. the branches are hollow and weigh very little when dry. The large leaves I have used to create cement leaves. we use them for gifts, birdbaths, and table tops. the three main branches, covered in those huge leaves are the best screen of our neighbors at the end of our deck. Pollarding is the process of cutting back. Love, love, love my Paulownia.


On Jul 15, 2013, Goombarok from Newport, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

In Korea fathers used to plant a paulownia or two when a daughter was born. Some years later, wedding gift furniture was made from the tree as a hope chest gift for that special day. We always loved watching those trees bloom and thoroughly enjoyed having one in the back yard.


On May 14, 2013, ScarletRed from El Paso, TX wrote:

Does not like El Paso sand. This was an experiment, I am trying to only grow plants that can handle our sand since it is very difficult to turn the sand into northern quality soil. The sand at my house is very fine like powder. Some plants grow really well in it like the trumpet vine, Texas umbrella tree, mesquite and desert willows. I literally go after invasive species because they can usually tolerate the El Paso climate and do well here (as long as they are watered regularly ;) ) with our extreme temperatures and winds. But the paulownia can not. Its probably a good thing too since I have read of them losing branches in the wind and I get a lot of wind. I will be digging up what every root ball is left today. And it was just a sapling. Never did get a huge 12 foot tree. ;(


On Jun 14, 2012, percent_one from Dobson, NC wrote:

Let me tell you something that no one else has. During the second year, my Empress Tree formed flower buds on the ends of all it's branches. Some 2 to 2 1/2 feet of flower buds. The flower buds are somewhat unattractive, but I guess some people would call them "winter interest" after the leaves fall in the autumn. In the Spring, the buds bloomed and, with the branches reaching towards the heavens, the tree truly looked like a Royal Empress. BUT, then the flowers faded and floated away and the seed pods began to grow. And grow. By June, I had 2 to 2 1/2 feet of large clustered seed pods (aka "shooter marbles") on the ends of each branch. They are so sticky that if someone could figure out how to bottle the sap, they surely could make a fortune selling glue. The weight bent all the ... read more


On Feb 1, 2012, redgreen from Harrison, OH wrote:

Walking on a trail on the south facing bluffs above Madison, Indiana(zone 7, zip 47250) on the Ohio River in November 2010 I came across these big leaves that weren't obviously Catalpa and the trunks of the trees supported that observation. I grew up in Southern Indiana and have familiarity with almost all the common tree species in the area, especially those with distinctively large leaves. I found empty hulls on the ground under some of the trees and brought them home to try a identify this mystery tree. Tung oil had been the only fit based on my visual research but the growth zone issue seems to be the only obstacle to repudiate that prognosis. My parents, aunts and uncles having grown up in that area had no knowledge of such trees growing in IN or KY and none of those state's official ... read more


On Aug 10, 2011, ChuckKOVALCK from Danielson, CT wrote:

Appearantly, even though it may be listed as an invasive species, the royal empress is not invasvive in Connecticut, as I have been trying to grow this species for twenty years,..I garden in zones 5a, 5b, and 6a, ie: Brooklyn, Danielson, and Mystic, Ct. The only plant that I have gotten to grow, so far, is in a dry zone, in full sun, in Danielson.... my plants died in Mystic, and in Brooklyn, the only one I have is four years old in Danielson, and it had a hard winter in 2010, as she was snapped in half by a pine branch,... happily I can report she grew to 15 feet this year, I cannot wait until it flowers, I cut down the pine to give her more room,... and my neighbors cant wait until I can get seeds for them to grow one in their yards too!


On Jul 15, 2011, ttprodr from Asbury Lake, FL wrote:

I grew one of those from a seed last year, cut it down to the ground this past march and now is 12 feet tall, just love it, i also heard in nevada they are planting lots of them because they are big carbon dioxide catcher and cleans up the air more than any tree which is awesome the way our atmosphere is we need something quick that helps to combat the mess humans have done,will post a picture of it.


On Jul 1, 2011, sassybella from Conyers, GA wrote:



On Jun 13, 2011, Cearbhaill from Russell, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

Run, run, run away from this tree!

I had two ancient Paulownia tomentosas removed from the front yard of our new house in May of '07.

I had the roots ground out as deep as the largest grinder would go. The roots shoots that came up that year were horrendous- one every foot covering the entire yard. It was literally a daily chore to keep up with them- you'd cut them all then the next morning there would be another hundred of them 2 inches tall.

They came up again equally as bad in '08, all spring and summer.

In '09 they slowed down a bit on my property but began seeking new areas as I saw them in neighbor yards as well- not only on the adjoining properties but across the street as well.

Spring and summer of '10- thre... read more


On Apr 16, 2011, ncplantlover from Rutherfordton, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I have had 5 volunteer in my yard, 2 from the roots of the first one when we cut it down to the ground. So it is invasive from the roots and from the seed. I enjoy the shade for the deck in the summer and the huge tropical looking leaves. But the branches do break off easily. You can cut it to the ground every year, and it will grow back taller each year; or leave it alone for it to bloom eventually. My original one is about 7 years old and has never bloomed yet, due to my son breaking off the branches because he thought it was a big weed, which it really is; but I'd like to see it bloom at least once, so I asked him not to do that anymore. It is maybe 8 feet from the house foundation, I'm probably going to regret letting it live; and the longer it lives, the harder it will be to get... read more


On Nov 13, 2010, RxBenson from Pikesville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

My botany professor introduced us to this plant as a specimen at the Philadelphia Zoo in the early 1960s. Then it was called 'Orientalis imperiales.' Since I have seen it grown as an estate planting along roadways at the State Psychiatric Hospital in Trenton -- huge specimens lining the drive. It has never seemed to be invasive there, but seedlings would get mowed as part of the expansive lawn, I guess. The tree is also evident in bloom along I-95 in the DE-MD area.

The seeds are small and the seedlings tiny, frail-looking things. I truly wish I had the room for one, as I adore the inflorescences and their individual "freckled" flowers.


On Sep 20, 2010, steepleseven from Oroville, CA wrote:

I just bought 2 empress trees about 12' tall, trunks about 3 to 4 inches.They were hanging out the back of my truck about 4' and had about 100 what I thought were seeds in clusters on the branches. I cut them all off to save so they wouldn't blow off on my 20 mile trip. I just found out they were flower pods- darn- no flowers this spring. I hope they grow more next year! At the nursery,there was healthy 2' trees growing in the hard gravel around the 10 gal tree containers, she said it was from seeds.


On Apr 5, 2010, maplemountaintreefar from Saint Clair, MO wrote:

Beautiful tree, grows well here in Missouri. Two big benefits, it grows quickly and provides great shade, the other is the leaves/blooms are non-toxic. The leaves are used for cattle feed, so you do not have to worry about your pets with this tree. It does not freely reproduce here and is a rapid grower if planted correctly.


On Mar 20, 2010, victorengel from Austin, TX wrote:

I originally ordered this plant on eBay, skeptical, but curious, about its growth. The first year it grew about 10 feet. The second year, it branched out and set flower buds. The third year, it bloomed. Because it didn't grow as tall as I wanted it to the first year, and because I didn't want the seeds to spread, I cut it down flush to the ground last March when the buds started to swell.

Last year, it grew about 21 feet. The largest leaves were 34 inches across. Now I have a 21 foot pole with a cluster of flower buds at the tip. The nodes along the stem are swelling, and this year it is sure to put on a lot of branches.

Meanwhile, I see new growths popping up here and there around the yard. If I cultivate the flower bed, I'm most likely going to sever a root.... read more


On Oct 22, 2009, pemsit from Milton, FL wrote:

I bought and planted two seedling 18" high in late July with the temperature hovering around 95 - 100. The tree's are hanging on and the big surprise is they are now blooming and it's October. They have not grown very much yet and are crooked almost like a shrub, not straight at all. I am reading that I should cut them to the ground to promote growth, any comment on this?


On Jun 6, 2009, plantaholic186 from Winnetka, IL wrote:

I planted two Paulownias in raised trial beds two years ago. Out of curiosity, I caged one, filling the cage with leaves in the fall, and the other I left exposed to the winter elements. Ironically, the exposed plant fared much better. I have planted both out into the garden, so I expect better results. I have not yet let them flower, so I cannot attest to invasive tendencies. There has not been any indication of suckering, and I've been playing with these plants, pruning them until they have two enormous solitary leaves. The leaves end up being up to 2' wide- no joke! They have grown 4' each year. There was dieback after this winter (which was brutal), but no more than 12".


On May 30, 2009, TheSkyKing from San Jose, CA wrote:

This looks like it will be an interesting, fairly unique tree. Now the Jacaranda will not be the only purple-flowered tree in the front yard.


On Mar 28, 2009, fcbadams from Fall City, WA wrote:

I purchased a starter at a library plant sale. After planting it, it was mowed over a couple of times but still ended up growing back the next year. It is now about 7 ft tall and of course at this time of year looks like others have described, a tall stick with branches sticking out. After protecting from the mower the family has come to appreciate it. I have been trying to find out what it was ever since i got it. Now I know. Thanks for all the comments. I live in Fall City Wa, It is not invasive and I am looking forward to seeing how tall it gets this year.I love the large leaves So far no flowers yet. Hope to get some. I planted it where I did to hide an obnoxious structure in our neighbors yard. It may work this year.


On Feb 20, 2009, passiflora_pink from Central, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

This tree is extremely invasive. Its windborne seeds invariably catch at building foundations. When the rapidly growing tree begins to develop it can crack the foundation and cause structural damage.


On Jan 21, 2009, FairOakian from Fair Oaks, CA wrote:

I have given this tree a negative because of poor appearance as a mature tree. Our Paulownia tomentosa is about 7 years old. It grew to about 30' tall in 3 years, producing instant shade, which is what we were after for our deck. However, after 3 years, it began producing seed pods - massive quantities of seed pods that hang on the tree for a long time and look bad. After it matured sufficiently to flower, the leaves it produced were smaller and the foliage became somewhat scant, making it a poor shade tree. It has matured into a genuinely ugly tree. I'm cutting it down next week.

On the positive side, the seeds don't seem to germinate here in northern California and it has not been invasive. Also on the positive side: the wood is very light and the branches make te... read more


On Jul 9, 2008, curtisg41 from Westbank,
Canada wrote:

For those of you that have experienced the invasive qualities of the Tomentosa I thought I would share with you an experience I have had with another species of Empress. Over the past decade there have been developments made to Empress Trees and a magnificent discovery has been made in that of the Empress Splendor! It has a truly beautiful flower and growth rates that exceed the Tomentosa without the invasive qualities.

I have planted a few of my own (in Arizona) and it is truly amazing to see them grow. I even think the flower is more unique than that of the Tomentosa.

Because it is a hybrid you do not have to worry about it spreading or taking over your yard. Just a beautiful tree that I have nothing but praise for. I have not found the Empress Splendor on ... read more


On Jul 2, 2008, okycowgirl from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

I live near in Choctaw Oklahoma and I am in need of shade trees in my pasture for my horses. There is an Empress tree at a house that I pass by on my way home sometimes. They have said I can take a cutting of it anytime I like.


On Jun 8, 2008, grahamgarden from Graham, WA wrote:

Not sure yet on this tree. Bought the first one and after the first winter all we had was a soggy bulb that had nothing left inside. Had it replaced and we have a small 1' tree we are growing in a pot to make sure that it has a better chance of living. We wanted to make it our focal for the turn around in the front but after reading about the bees we have decided to add this to our forest. Our weather here is relatively mild and am very disappointed with our results so far.


On May 30, 2008, carplips2 from Spokane, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Have had this tree in the ground for about 4-5 years now. I was told when I bought the tree that it would die down to the ground each year due to winter temps down to -10F. During this period it has gotten this cold at least four times and it once even dipped to -22F. Despite what I was told...the tree is growing strong. Each year it adds a little to its height and spread...although for most of the year it looks like a 15-18' tall stick with a few lateral branches. The buds begin to pop around Memorial Day and the leaves all promptly fall off with the first frost at the end of September. Its amazing how fast this plant loses its leaves...all in one day. The leaves no longer attain their huge size like they did when the tree was young. It also has slowed its growth rate.

Un... read more


On Mar 1, 2008, joegee from Bucyrus, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have a four year old empress tree. I received it as a one year old root cutting. The lady who gave me my tree told me that if I want more trees, I only had to take a few stabs with a sharp shovel near the trunk to cut a few roots. Each root fragment that has enough roots of its own will grow a trunk, and can be transplanted. :)

When I planted it I was told to coppice the tree (cut it all the way back to the ground) every spring for the first three seasons to promote a strong, straight trunk. I did this, cringing each year as I cut back ten to fourteen feet of growth. I then selected the healthiest shoot and allowed it to grow out. It easily regrew each season, taller than the season before. This year I am to break off any leaves or shoots where I don't want branches... read more


On Aug 29, 2007, redhatsun from Vancouver, WA wrote:

We got a young tree, about 2.5' tall. Two seasons later it is about 18' tall and putting on massive growth on new branches. We were looking for a fast growing tree to shade our patio and this is the one.


On Aug 15, 2007, DOMandAndrea from Upton, KY wrote:

Last year this large "weed" popped up under the edge of the front deck, so I chopped it down. A month later it was back, the leaves were so big i decided to see what it was and let it grow; it got about 6 feet tall.

This year i let it grow again, and everyone that has seen it just raved about it and asked what it was. I have been saying it's our bean stalk, like jack and the bean stalk, it is now about 12 feet tall and it has a brother next to it about 10 feet tall.

As of today i found out what it is. I guess the seed came to us from some unknown source. The base is about a foot under the deck and the trunk is bent to allow it grow upwards. By the way they grow very well in Kentucky red clay, under a deck, after being hacked down as a yearling. lol.
... read more


On Jun 10, 2007, dogladyjoolz from Mesa, AZ wrote:

I want to plant one of these at our new house and have questions. We live just outside of Phoenix zone 9 so I don't think it will be too invasive (It's just too hot and dry)

I am worried about mess and bees. We have dogs with a doggie door and don't want them to get hurt while we are at work. Our bees are mean here!


On Apr 14, 2007, RainFallFlowers from Hernando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I planted mine last year, near my dogs kennel to hopefully grow over and give him some shade. I have had flowers on it all year and believe it or not the hard freeze didn't do much damage to the leaves..

It has been warm in florida now since March and My plant has sprouted new limbs and looks to be a promising year for it..

What i do not like at first is that it looks like a scrangly weed in my yard.. I hope it grows another 10 feet this year it looks more like a tree.


On Apr 8, 2007, Turken from Lower Lake, CA wrote:

I have about 40 Empress Trees growing right now. I cut down all to the ground except for two this spring. They are budding out good right now. I use the cut trunks of the trees for garden poles. I also have about 75 new seedlings I grew from seed in my greenhouse. They are not invasive here. This is a great tree.


On Mar 25, 2007, technodweeb from New Lenox, IL wrote:

I just posted to another area about my Empress Trees.

I have 3. I'm not finding them invasive, but Im in Illinois, it may be that the seeds arent viable through our winters. Havent noticed the roots pushing up the driveway, either.

I had one that looked like a 6 dead stick in the ground after its first winter. I thought I lost yet another sapling I had tried.

I left it in. It grew AROUND itself with new shoots pruned it stripped smaller weak branches and now, last year was 3 years I have a 25 foot tree giving me shade. Im betting its going to give the Pine a run this year for which is taller.

My neighbor across the street said felt bad - she had watched me - this would have been my 4th attempt to grow a sma... read more


On Mar 19, 2007, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Extreme Caution should be used before planting this tree anywhere in Florida. It could take over the world.


On Feb 27, 2007, Lily_love from Central, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

Some has already mentioned that Empress trees are 'naturalized' in the SE. No wonder I've seen them along the interstate as I drove by. Gorgious flowers though, I've always wanted one, I ordered two bare-root trees via online, they're fragil looking young trees. The roots are fleshy and pliable, the tiny tree is indeed hollow like that of 'bamboo' but soft, no wonder it breaks easily. If this beauty is invasive, I wish it would take over previts, and wild honey suckles, not to mention poison-ivy.


On Jan 18, 2007, buggycrazy from spokane valley, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

This has been a great landscape tree, it has not been invasive at all, and we have some VERY invasive, WEEDY plants here, mosty our own natives, if this can take out the Maples more power to it. We have lots of disturbed ground and no seedings have volunteered, although plenty of our native trees and weeds have. We also have terrible winds in the summer and the only Empress tree branches to break are the ones other trees fell on. It has root suckered in clay soil, not a one on the sandy, rocky areas. Rodents have girdled some, which may be why they suckered in clay. The roots are easy to dig through so it has been an easy tree to garden under and a good choice for a fast shade tree, it can also be cut to the ground every year and grown as for the large, fuzzy foliage, it resembles a ... read more


On Dec 27, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Empress Tree Paulownia tomentosa is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.


On Sep 1, 2006, helpfuldude from Colchester, CT wrote:

This plant could be a poster child for invasives. I loved the big old monster in downtown New London, but when I talked to the neighbors around it, the jaundiced looks and nasty comments gave me pause. At least it's not a bird borne issue, but think VERY carefully about planting this one; your local ecosystem could be impacted negatively. It's on our state invasive list...


On Jan 30, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

According to a recent article, one can plant these tress at 300 to the acre and harvest 30,000 board feet in 8-9 years. At $3.00 a board foot, that's not a bad at all. Apparrently they rejuvenate after harvesting as well.


On Jan 17, 2006, droughtlover from Igo, CA wrote:

In regards to invasiveness, a quote from the California Invasive Plants Council "...the empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa) is a pest in deciduous forests of the eastern United States, particularly in the southern Appalachians, but it is not known to escape from cultivation in California, where it is used as an ornamental landscape tree." In Oregon, one grower is touting this tree as a fast-growing agroforestry choice. I'll be planting some this year, and I'll let you know how it goes.


On Nov 10, 2005, sunriselmi from Hughson, CA wrote:

planted one in 1998. it is 40 feet tall. planted two more in 2003, now 16 feet tall. in california they do not reseed and do not set many seed pods. weak wood limited to small branchets, main scaffold is strong. my trees set 10,000 buds in fall and attract as many bees daily in spring. this is a highly underrated tree. the leaves get smaller as the tree ages and it is possible to garden underneath. spectacular in spring.


On Aug 19, 2005, elmio from Tyler, TX wrote:

I planted one Paulownia 3 months ago, it was 17" tall. It is now 6' 10" tall and going strong. I water it twice a week and every two weeks fertilize it with a liquid (Peters Plant Food one table spoon per gallon). It is planted in a clayish soil and an area that drains very well. It is exposed to full sun. During the high heat of the day (90F to 100F) it appears to wilt, but when the sun goes down it perks right back up. I have heard that it is an invasive plant???? If so I will deal with that later, I just want a quick shade tree.


On May 18, 2005, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

So far so good.

I found something HUGE growing in a bulb bed last year and it was identified as Empress Tree.

I let it develop quite a bit, which didn't take long, before moving it to the woods which is it's new home.

This fall I went to check on it and the top of the tree looked odd, and the trunk felt hollow. I thought it was dead but sure enough, this spring the tree pulled through and is putting out leaves below the trauma area.

Empress tree proves to be quite resilient and a hardy tree. I just hope this nature isn't a sign of it's invasiveness to come.

Update on August 11, 2006:

I've changed my rating to a negative. I see these trees everywhere. We're putting in a pool and have a lot of disturb... read more


On May 9, 2005, saya from Heerlen,
Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:

A beautifull tree..In my neighbourhood there are growing ten Empress Trees in the public garden. They are all in bloom now..a wonderfull sight. I 've talked with people on a Dutch gardening forum...Paulownia tomentosa is 'nt hardy enough for our climate they say...well I 've told them to come overhere and see. They have a hard time during our autumn storms..I think there wood is soft so the branches break easy.
They spread their seeds all over and I often find seedlings of them in my garden...helas..I have no room in it for a tree.


On May 9, 2005, TNPassiflora from Oliver Springs, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

I found this tree growing along the creek in the wooded (& wild) portion of our property in Oliver Springs, TN. I had never seen it before, so it took me a while to identify it. I am now sure it is an "Empress," and it looks like an empress when it is in bloom. I think it is lovely and if it were invasive, at least it would be beautiful! But, on our land it has not gotten invasive (yet), but is loaded with seedpods. I planted in my yard (the less wild part of our property) a portion of a root with a sprout that was growing on the soil surface along the creek (the water line varies greatly depending on rainfall & the roots are very shallow). It seems to be growing well in a part shade/dappled sunlight environment.


On Dec 5, 2004, happygardening from Fox, AR wrote:

My aunt had her land completely cleared for pasture land 5 years ago. Where it was cleared, a single royal empress tree sprouted up, most likely from a single seed. It is 20-30' tall, and flowers every spring. It is on pretty dry land. This year, it was loaded with seed pods. Inside these seed pods, there are up to two thousand very small seeds that blow away in the slightest breeze. I got some, so I can start me a few trees. A very gorgeous tree.


On Nov 10, 2004, 3lamma wrote:

Pretty, unusual, specimen tree in the Northeast... but arborist friends at the Arnold Arboretum warn of its invasive and weedy characteristics.


On Jun 16, 2004, cft from Spring Branch, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I purchased two Paulownia tomentosa seedlings back in February from a local nursery here in the Texas Hill Country. One did not survive, but the other seems to be hanging on. They were planted out in the front meadow that gets tons of bright sunshine pretty much all day. I fed them with liquid organic fertilizer a couple of times, but they are essentially out there unattended (except, of course, for the cage around each so the local deer herd does not make them a snack!). This past weekend I bought a larger, better looking replacement for the one that did not make it, but I am going to hold off planting it until the heat of the summer is over.
These were labeled Dragon Monster Tree at the nursery.


On Jun 15, 2004, bill_casey from Valdosta, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Easy to grow from seed and it is a fast grower.


On Apr 5, 2004, ibepeekin wrote:

I live in the Nashville, TN area way back in the woods and these trees grow like crazy along my driveway. A couple years ago we decided to put up a new house on our land farther back into the woods. We had some loggers come in and take out a few trees for some extra cash and to make room for the house. The made mention of the Empress trees and that they go for big bucks yet they were only interested in the typical trees like oak and such...


On Dec 11, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This has to be one of the fastest trees I have ever had experience with. I got one as a 2' seedling and in 4 years it's almost 40' tall (and that was even after it accidentally got snapped off at ground level after the first year)... and has the habit of a poplar- straight up and down. Finally it is starting to send out lateral branches and this last summer it finally flowered. The wood is brittle, though, and our Santa Ana winds have no trouble snapping off the branches, so careful if you plant this in a windy climate. The leaves are huge and fuzzy (almost sticky).

I have read others comments about invasiveness, and I would think that would be a problem here in So California, too... but it's not for some reason. The trees here are so loaded with seeds, the sheer weig... read more


On May 2, 2001, dave wrote:

This is a prolific seed producer, and sprouts easily, making it considered invasive in many parts of the world. The Chinese plant this tree when their daughter is born. When she marries, they cut the tree down and make furniture and other useful things for her and her new husband.