Plant Guide > Trees > Catalpas > Paulownia Tree

Paulownia Tree

Paulownia TreeThe Paulownia (Paulownia imperialis, Sieb. & Zucc.) is a member of the spurge family, not so far away from the catalpa, botanically speaking. Indeed, an untrained eye detects the similarity in foliage, flowers and general habit of the two trees. In lustiness of growth each excels in many regions where tropical profusion of leafage and bloom is exceptional.

The paulownia blossoms before the leaves; its clustered violet flowers hung out on the ends of twigs look like foxgloves. Showy as these are, they need the leaf background-the lack of it scores against them among critical admirers of ornamental trees. The clustered seed balls, too, are unsightly in winter, requiring to be cut off.

A very satisfying screen of verdure is renewed every season by cutting back to one or two stalks seedlings of paulownia. The heart-shaped leaves are often a foot across. The hardiness of the tree commends it. Even as far north as Montreal it comes up from roots every year, forming long shoots which bear leaves astonishingly large compared with trees indigenous to the region.

In spite of the drawbacks named, this tree enjoys a growing popularity in the eastern half of the country. Its flowers are deliciously fragrant, and no tree blossom has more delicate colour. Blue is unusual among tree blossoms, and these trees, like great blue-flowered catalpas, are striking objects in parks and along avenues.

Native of Japan and China, the paulownia feels enough at home already in America to run wild in some places. A splendid evergreen species has been found in the Himalayas.