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Empress Tree

Paulownia tomentosa


is a deciduous tree in the genus Paulownia, native to central and western China. These are popular in the modern style of gardening which uses large-foliaged and "architectural" plants. Regarding its nomenclature, Paulownia is in honour of the Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, also known as Anna Paulowna, a princess of the Netherlands, with tomentosa being derived from the Latin meaning ‘covered in hairs’. The flowers are produced before the leaves in early spring, on panicles 10–30 cm long, with a tubular purple corolla 4–6 cm long resembling a foxglove flower. The fruit is a dry egg-shaped capsule 3–4 cm long, containing numerous tiny seeds. The seeds are winged and disperse by wind and water.


Paulownia tomentosa can survive wildfire because the roots can regenerate new, very fast-growing stems. It is tolerant of pollution and it is not fussy about soil type. For this reason it functions ecologically as a pioneer plant. Its nitrogen-rich leaves provide good fodder and its roots prevent soil erosion.

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Meise, Vlaanderen, Belgium

Lat: 50.96, Long: 4.32

Spotted on May 17, 2012
Submitted on May 19, 2012

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