invasive paulownia tomentosa tree with lavender flowers

Princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa). Photo: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Updated: April 27, 2021

About princess tree or empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa)

Life Cycle

Deciduous tree

Growth habit

Small to medium tree that reaches a height of 30-60 ft. Produces clusters of light purple, fragrant flowers in the spring. Paulownia is a highly competitive, invasive ornamental tree that grows rapidly

bark of princess tree
Photo: Leslie Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

 

  • Chambered pith inside a Paulownia twig
    Photo: Annemarie Smith, ODNR Division of Forestry, Bugwood.org

    Inside cross section of a Paulownia twig
  • Princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa) leaves
    Photo: Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University, Bugwood.org

    closeup of paulownia leaves
  • Urban Paulownia tree
    Photo: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

    weedy paulownia tree

Reproduction

Produces numerous winged seeds, dried capsules (houses the seeds) mature in the fall and remain attached to the tree through winter. Suckers from root or stump  

fruit of princess tree
Photo: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

Conditions that favor growth

Disturbed natural areas, including forests, streambanks, and steep rocky slopes. Prefers sun

Cultural control

Hand pull young seedlings, including the root system when the soil is moist. Cut young trees at the base if flowering to prevent seed formation

Additional resources

Invasive Tree Control 

Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas

(PDF) Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas