Monday, April 4, 2011

Empress (Princess) Tree

These two  Empress trees (Paulownia tomentosa) are visible when you drive along AL 147 N, just before you get to the big hills before the Gold Hill railroad track. (What is the name of that creek between those tall tills? If you know, tell me.) This is another tree that was imported from Asia. It produces these beautiful (fragrant?) lavender flowers in spring before the leaves. The flowers are followed by pecan shaped capsules. The capsules split and release a myriad of  winged seed which in turn can produce a hoard of invasive baby Empress trees. The capsules themselves turn black, staying on the tree till the next spring, becoming an eyesore till they finally drop before the new flowers appear. So,like Wisteria, enjoy the flowers while you can, because the rest of the year you will curse this invasive lady.
The tree in China has been used to make boxes. It may get as tall as 60 feet.
The first time I ever saw this tree was on a trip to the Southern Appalachian Wildflower Pilgrimage in Gatlinburg,Tennessee.  It was growing and flowering in waste areas as we began the drive into the lower foothills. I thought it was beautiful, at least from a distance, and you will, too. Just do not plant it on your own property.

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