Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Sieb. & Zucc. ex Steud.

empress-tree, princess-tree

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Princess tree was introduced from Asia in the 1840s as an ornamental. It has also been cultivated in plantations for its specialty wood. This fast-growing tree is sometimes used on mining reclamation sites. The combination of its broad tolerance, fast growth, rapid dispersal of seeds by wind, and widespread planting raise concerns about its potential to become an invasive species.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), forest edges, forests

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
Growth form
  • the plant is a shrub (i.e., a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
  • the plant is a tree
Leaf type
the leaf blade is simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaves per node
there are two leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
  • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
  • the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
  • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Leaf duration
the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
armature on plant
the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns
Leaf blade length
60–500 mm
Leaf blade width
40–560 mm
Leaf stalk
the leaves have leaf stalks
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
Bark texture
  • the bark of an adult plant is ridged or plated
  • the bark of an adult plant is thin and smooth
Twig winter color
  • brown
  • orange
  • purple
Bud scale number
there are three or more scales on the winter bud, and they overlap like shingles, with one edge covered and the other edge exposed
Show All Characteristics
  • Buds or leaf scars
    Bud scale number
    there are three or more scales on the winter bud, and they overlap like shingles, with one edge covered and the other edge exposed
    Bud scar shape (Fraxinus)
    NA
    Collateral buds
    there are no collateral buds on the sides of the branches
    Superposed buds
    there are no superposed buds on the branch
  • Flowers
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Enlarged sterile flowers
    there are no enlarged sterile flowers on the plant
    Flower petal color
    • pink
    • purple
    • white
    Flower symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Hairs on ovary (Amelanchier)
    NA
    Hypanthium present
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence differs from the choices given
    Number of pistils
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are fused to form a tube, cup, or bell shape
    Sepal cilia (Ilex)
    NA
    Stamen number
    4
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    NA
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
    Nut with spines (Fagaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    there are no wings on the fruit
  • Glands or sap
    Sap color
    the sap is clear and watery
    Stalked glands on fruit (Rosa)
    NA
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    • the plant is a shrub (i.e., a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
    • the plant is a tree
  • Leaves
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    • the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf blade base shape
    • The base of the leaf blade is cordate (heart-shaped, with rounded lobes)
    • the base of the leaf blade is truncate (ends abruptly in a more or less straight line as though cut off)
    Leaf blade edges
    • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade edges (Acer)
    NA
    Leaf blade hairs
    the hairs on the leaf blade are different from the choices given
    Leaf blade length
    60–500 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade width
    40–560 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf lobe tips (Quercus)
    NA
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk nectaries
    there are no nectaries on the leaf stalk
    Leaf teeth
    • the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    • the leaf blade margin is serrate (with forward-pointing) or dentate (with outward-pointing) with medium-sized to coarse teeth
    • the leaf blade margin is undulate (wavy), but does not have teeth
    Leaf teeth hairs (Carya)
    NA
    Leaf type
    the leaf blade is simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaves per node
    there are two leaves per node along the stem
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • forests
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Aerial roots
    the plant has no aerial roots
    Bark texture
    • the bark of an adult plant is ridged or plated
    • the bark of an adult plant is thin and smooth
    Branch brittleness (willows only)
    NA
    Branch cross-section
    the branch is circular in cross-section, or it has five or more sides, so that there are no sharp angles
    First-year cane (Rubus)
    NA
    Twig papillae (Vaccinium species only)
    NA
    Twig winter color
    • brown
    • orange
    • purple
    Wings on branch
    the branch does not have wings on it
    armature on plant
    the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns

Wetland Status

Occurs only in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: UPL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

No

Synonyms

  • Bignonia tomentosa Thunb.

Family

Paulowniaceae

Genus

Paulownia

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Sieb. & Zucc. ex Steud. E

empress-tree. Bignonia tomentosa Thunb. • CT, MA, RI. Roadsides, forest edges and fragments, waste areas, dumps.