Skip to main content

Princesstree (Paulownia tomentosa)

Princesstree Synonyms: Paulownia imperialis

Description: Introduced to the United States as an ornamental in 1840.

Habit: Medium sized tree that grows 50-60 ft. tall and 2 ft. in diameter.

Leaves: Opposite, simple, heart-shaped and large, 5-12 in. long, typically velvety, green above and paler below. Leaves on younger trees show course serrations or even lobes.

Stems: Stout, light brown in color, numerous lenticels, pith is hollow second year; terminal bud lacking, lateral buds small. Bark is thin, grayish brown in color with shallow fissures.

Flowers: Large, showy, upright clusters of purple flowers; individual tube-like flowers are 1.5 to 2 in. long, very fragrant and appear in mid-Spring.

Fruit and seeds: Oval capsule, 1-1.5 in. long, filled with numerous (1000s) small seeds; capsules initially sticky and green in color, later turning brown and dry.

Habitat: Native to China. Can be found in forests, roadsides and stream banks.

Reproduction: By seed and sprouting.

Similar species: Easily mistaken for Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

Monitoring and rapid response: Control requires persistence due to strong sprouting ability, rapid growth and seed production. Cut mature trees to ground level at the onset of flowering. Girdling will kill the top of tree but sprouts are common and require follow-up treatment with foliar herbicide such as glyphosate or triclopyr.

Credits: The information provided in this factsheet was gathered from Virginia Tech Dendrology, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service FEIS PAUTOM, and the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States.

Individual species images that appear with a number in a black box are courtesy of the network ( Individual photo author credits may not be included due to the small display size of the images and subsequent difficulty of reading the provided text. All other images appear courtesy of Google (

Common Name:


Scientific Name:

Paulownia tomentosa







USDA Symbol: