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Princesstree, Paulownia
Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Sieb. & Zucc. ex Steud.

International Code - PATO2
FIA survey code - 0712


Miller, James H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 p.

acrobat version

Synonym: empresstree

Plant. Deciduous tree to 60 feet (18 m) in height and 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter with large heart-shaped leaves, fuzzy hairy on both sides, showy pale-violet flowers in early spring before leaves, and persistent pecan-shaped capsules in terminal clusters in summer to winter. Abundant flower buds present on erect stalks over winter.

Stem. Twigs and branches stout, glossy gray brown and speckled with numerous white dots (lenticels). No terminal bud. Lateral leaf scars raised, circular, and becoming larger, dark, and sunken. Bark light-to-dark gray, roughened, and becoming slightly fissured. Stem pith chambered or hollow and wood white.

Leaves. Opposite, heart-shaped and fuzzy hairy on both surfaces, 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) long and 5 to 9 inches (13 to 23 cm) wide. Leaves larger on resprouts, 16 to 20 inches (40 to 50 cm) across, with extra tips often extending at vein tips. Petioles rough hairy, 2 to 8 inches (5 to 20 cm) long.

Flowers. April to May. Covered with showy erect panicles of pale-violet flowers before leaves in early spring, tubular with five unequal lobes. Fragrant. Flower buds fuzzy, linear, and becoming ovoid in summer and persistent on erect stalks over winter.

Fruit and seeds. June to April. Terminal clusters of pecan-shaped capsules 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) long and 0.6 to 1 inch (1.5 to 2.5 cm) wide. Pale green in summer turning to tan in winter and eventually black and persistent into spring. Capsules splitting in half during late winter to release tiny winged seeds.

Ecology. Common around old homes, on roadsides, riparian areas, and forest margins in infested areas. Infrequently planted in plantations. Spreads by wind- and water- dispersed seeds. Invades after fire, harvesting, and other disturbances. Forms colonies from root sprouts.

Resembles southern catalpa, Catalpa bignonioides Walt., and northern catalpa, C. speciosa (Warder) Warder ex Engelm., which have leaves with sparsely hairy upper surfaces and rough hairy lower surfaces and long slender, persistent beans.

History and use. Introduced in the early 1800s from East Asia. Has been widely planted as an ornamental and grown in scattered plantations for speculative high-value wood exports to Japan.


April
Photo by J. Miller


June
Photo by J. Miller


June
Photo by J. Miller


October
Photo by J. Miller


October
Photo by J. Miller


June
Photo by J. Miller


March
Photo by J. Miller


June
Photo by J. Miller


June
Photo by J. Miller


States with suspected infestations are shown in gray.


Recommended control procedures:

Large trees. Make stem injections using Arsenal AC* or a glyphosate herbicide in dilutions and cut spacings specified on the herbicide label (anytime except March and April). For felled trees, apply these herbicides to stem and stump tops immediately after cutting.

Saplings. Apply Garlon 4 as a 20-percent solution in commercially available basal oil, diesel fuel, or kerosene (2.5 quarts per 3-gallon mix) with a penetrant (check with herbicide distributor) to young bark as a basal spray.

Resprouts and seedlings. Thoroughly wet all leaves with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant (July to October): Arsenal AC* as a 1-percent solution (4 ounces per 3-galllon mix); a glyphosate herbicide, Garlon 3A, or Garlon 4 as a 2-percent solution (8 ounces per 3-gallon mix).

*   Nontarget plants may be killed or injured by root uptake.


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The Bugwood Network, USDA Forest Service & USDA APHIS PPQ.
The University of Georgia - Warnell School of Forest Resources and
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Dept. of Entomology
Last updated on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 at 01:37 PM
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