Thursday, May 27, 2010


My niece is a princess, this tree is not.

The Princess Tree (Paulownia tomentosa) was brought to North America from China in the 1840's for use as a landscape and ornamental tree. Since then it has become naturalized in the eastern U.S. and is also on the west coast. The Princess Tree can be found in 25 states from Maine to Texas.
This is not good news.

What makes the Princess tree an invasive tree species?

Like the Tree-of-Heaven, it is a fast colonizer, reproducing from seed or root sprouts. A single tree can produce up to 20 million seeds that can be easily transported by wind, water or even on my flip flop. The Princesstree is not picky on where it grows. Rocky cliff? No problem. Acidic soil? Bring it on. Burned out area? Sure.

Do not for one second applaud the Princess Tree's pioneer spirit. It is a true invader. It crowds out native species.

Want two other reasons to not Facebook Fan the Princess Tree? Mature trees are generally structurally unsound and rarely live more than 70 years. No I am not an ageist.

The Princess Tree does NOT qualify for the $50 Tree Rebate. Check our website for a list of recommended trees that do well in the District and are eligible for the rebate.


Princess Tree 101

  • Can grow to be 60 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter
  • Leaves are large, heart-shaped, opposite and fuzzy
  • Bark is light to dark gray and rough
  • Fragrant, pale-violet flowers appear from April to May
  • Pecan-shaped capsules appear beginning in June; release tiny winged seeds in winter
  • Other common names include the Empress Tree and Foxglove Tree


Unknown said...

Oh, but the flowers are so pretty, and it smells so sweet! I love the one in front of the Cleveland Park Library.

Alas, this princess is a weed.Nice to look at but not to keep around.

Eva said...

Is this what I see in the outdoor Metro stations around DC?