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The P&PDL Picture of the Week
for 11 November 2002

Paulownia: Royal Princess or Royal Pain?

Rosie Lerner, Consumer Horticulture Specialist, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Photos by: Jim Peter, Dubois County Extension Educator

Paulownia tomentosa is an exotic looking tree native to China and more commonly known here as Royal Paulownia, Empress tree, or Princess tree. This species has huge, nearly heart-shaped leaves varying from 5-10 inches long and wide and are usually quite fuzzy on the back side. Paulownia makes dramatic growth for a woody plant, up to 10 feet in just one year. Flowers are purple, and the fruits begin as ovoid to heart-shaped "pods" with a pointy beak at the blossom end. Later on the fruit will dry and split open to release their seed. Paulownia has the potential to be a nuisance (messy) tree in Southern Indiana where it may survive overwiner. In Northern Indiana, they are generally killed back to the ground most years, but then can resprout from the roots. The trees may produce flower buds in the North, but rarely will actually flower or fruit.

You can see some good photos of both immature and mature fruit, as well as flowers online at

Click on the small image to view a larger image.

Leaf and fruit cluster

Fruit cluster Back of leaf

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Last updated: 12 November 2002/amd
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University