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Paulownia tomentosa - Empress or Foxglove Tree

Paulownia are deciduous trees with large, ovate leaves up to 30cm across which are densely clothed with glandular hairs which catch aphids and other small winged insects. In spring it provides erect panicles of foxglove-like flowers. However the flower buds are present throughout the winter and the flowers open before the leaves appear so in cold areas they are usually spoiled.

Paulownia is one of the fastest growing trees in the world and a well established plant can grow over 2.5m in one season, but its vigorous growth can also be harnessed for ornamental purposes. Grown for their shade, flower and interesting shape it looks best if it can be viewed from above as the flowers tend to appear towards the top of the tree.

The most common grown variety in the UK is the Paulownia tomentosa Award of Garden Merit (AGM) usually reaching up to 12m tall in our climate. Its flowers are a highly attractive pale violet which appear in early spring before the leaves appear.

FACT: In China, the tree is planted at the birth of a girl. The fast-growing tree matures when she does and when she is eligible for marriage the tree is cut down and carved into wooden articles for her dowry.

Plant Profile

Name: Paulownia tomentosa

Common Name: Empress or Foxglove Tree

Family: Paulowniaceae

Height: 8 - 12 metres

Width: Up to wider than 8 metres

Demands: Full Sun

Soil: Prefers well drained Loam, Sand, Chalk and Clay

Foliage: Deciduous

Flowers: Violet/purple

Paulownia tomentosa info sheet

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