Empress Tree (Paulownia Tomentosa) is a deciduous perennial tree growing up to 25 meters in height. Also known as Princess tree or Foxglove Tree, Paulownia Tomentosa is native to China. But it has been introduced to the U.S. and elsewhere with some tendency to become invasive. Empress Tree is readily propagated by seed and prefers a peat and pumice mix. But it also tolerates a wide range of other soils even including those with medium range salinity. Paulownia Tomentosa also has the ability to survive wildfires due to the fact that its roots can generate new fast-growing stems.
Several Asian Instruments are carved from the wood of the Empress Tree. There is also a custom that a tree is planted for the birth of a female, and her dowry is carved from the wood of the tree when she is old enough to marry. The soft seeds were also traditionally used as a packing material for the exportation of Chinese porcelain prior to the advent of polystyrene. Curiously, it is actually this purpose that caused much of the distribution of the plant.
Today, Empress Tree is primarily grown as an ornamental tree for its large leaves and beautiful purple blooms that show in spring and early summer.
Growing Information: The seeds should be surface sown by pressing them into the surface of the soil. A mix of sand and pumice works well, but other soils will work. Optimal germination occurs at 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Situate the plants in a location in full sun, keeping them spaced three inches apart for the first year. Water sparingly. Empress Tree is hardy to zone 6.
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