WSU Clark County Extension

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Empress Tree

Scientific name: Paulownia tomentosa

Type:Deciduous tree
Plant Requirements
Zone:5 to 8
Sun:Full sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:40 ft
Width:40 ft
Bloom:Showy flowers
Bloom Time:April
Bloom Color:Lavender
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description Native to China, Empress Tree (also referred to as Royal Paulownia or Princess Tree) is a fast-growing deciduous tree. It is primarily grown for its profuse spring bloom of foxglove-like flowers and its large catalpa-like green leaves.

Empress Tree is an upright to spreading deciduous tree that grows to 40’ and as wide. It bears large (12” across) ovate leaves which are lightly hairy above and densely hairy beneath. Leaves are arranged in an opposite fashion.

This is a flowering tree that blooms in April. Flowers are tubular and funnel-shaped with an outer pinkish-lavender color and a dark purple interior. There is a yellow stripe running length-wise inside the blossom. Flowers have a pleasing fragrance that reminds one of vanilla. The flowers can be eaten fresh in salads.

Flowers are followed by oval, woody, dehiscent seed capsules that emerge sticky green and ripen to brown in fall, at which point they split open releasing abundant winged seeds.

It was first introduced into the United States in the mid 1800s, and has since escaped cultivation and naturalized in many areas of the eastern U.S.

None reported.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234