Paulownia tomentosa – Empress tree, Fowglove tree
Habit: An exquisite medium-size tree, 8-15 m tall and wide, fast-growing, broad crown, umbrella-shaped when old, usually with crooked and short stem, initially extremely tall and wide, 100-200 cm long yearly shoots, later only up to 50 cm.
Flowers: A luxurious sea of flowers in 20-40 cm long, purple-blue to purple-violet panicles; flowers buds spend the winter naked, only protected by the rust-red tomentose covering, individual flowers are trumpets, yellow perianth; before leaves shoot in April, fragrant.
Fruits: Hundreds of sticky, ovoid brownish capsules with tiny, poppy-like seeds; persisting for several years when empty and rustling and clacking in the wind.
Leaves: Cordate, some more than 50 cm across, somewhat sticky, green; velvety-hairy, no autumn colours or an inconspicuous yellow, leaves on sprouts are like elephant’s ears, very conspicuous.
Roots: Deep roots, fleshy root system, not sensitive.
Demands: Only full sun, not tolerant of shade, tolerates heat, needs warmth, not ripening sufficiently in autumn in cool places; not very frost hardy, only in favoured areas; tolerant of urban and industrial pollution, needs wind protection.
Soil: Very dry to moist; slightly acidic to very alkaline.
Hardiness: Zone 7b