What is This Plant? Empress or Princess Tree (Paulownia tomentosa)

Category Trees
The Empress (or Princess) tree is native to China and produces beautiful large fragrant purple flowers. What is This Plant? Empress or Princess Tree (Paulownia tomentosa)


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July 24, 2011

What kind of plant is this? It comes up in the first week of June and grows 2 1/2 feet a day. It is now around 18 ft tall. It is supposed to have purple flowers and long beans. I have had it 15 years and it has never bloomed. I guess it is a male or needs another plant to make it bloom.

By Becky


July 24, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

This looks like a Paulownia or Empress tree to me. They are a fast growing tree with clusters of purple flowers, native to China. They do not have long seed pods but rather clusters of ovoid seeds. The catalpa tree has similarly shaped, but smaller leaves and white flowers that remind me of tiny orchids, with purple flecks in the throat.


The catalpa tree does produce a long seed pod. The two trees are sometimes confused.

I had a Paulownia in northern Oregon and while it did take a few years to flower it was not 15 years. Sorry that I have no useful information on the lack of blooms. I hope that the identification will help.

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July 26, 20110 found this helpful
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My vote is also Paulownia. It takes a few years to flower. By now it seems you would have had flowers. They only bloom about five weeks in spring. Then they are done until next year. Try some blooming fertilizer next spring. Or possibly you are using fertilizer and it is over fertilized? Some plants only bloom in poor soil. I hope this helps.

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July 26, 20110 found this helpful
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OK so you said it comes up every year. So if it does not have an actual tree trunk it would not be the Paulownia tree. I didn't notice that in your first write up.


Paulowina is actually a tree. Or if cut down and allowed to re grow from the root can actually turn into a large bush many feet tall. This plant is considered a weed in some states. www.bing.com/.../search?q=Paulownia+Royal+Empress...

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July 26, 20110 found this helpful

It sounds like a hyacinth bean vine but I've NEVER seen one that big! They bloom and have long beans which are not for eating.

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