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Published In: Nomenclator Botanicus. Editio secunda 2: 278. 1841. (Nomencl. Bot. (ed. 2)) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 9/1/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced


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[1. Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Steud. (royal paulownia, empress tree, princess tree)

Pl. 480 a, b; Map 2183

Plants trees to 15 m tall. Bark smooth when young, developing a network of irregular shallow furrows with age, brownish gray. Twigs stout, with prominent white lenticels, hairy and somewhat sticky when young, the leaf scars prominent. Leaves opposite or less commonly whorled, lacking stipules, simple, long-petiolate. Leaf blades 8–70 cm long, ovate, sometimes very shallowly 3(5)-lobed or angled toward the base, cordate at the base, tapered to the sharply pointed tip, the margins otherwise entire, the upper surface sparsely pubescent with mostly fascicled hairs, the undersurface densely pubescent with stellate and fascicled hairs. Inflorescences large terminal panicles. Flowers perfect, hypogynous, without subtending bracts. Calyces actinomorphic or very slightly zygomorphic, 5-lobed to about the middle, densely pubescent with orangish brown stellate hairs, the lobes broadly triangular-ovate, rounded to bluntly pointed at the tip. Corollas 5–7 cm long, zygomorphic, glandular on the outer surface, 5-lobed, the tube bell-shaped, the lobes shorter than the tube, appearing obliquely 2-lipped, light violet to blue with darker purple spots and longitudinal yellow stripes in the throat. Stamens 4, the filaments fused to the corolla tube, the anther sacs attached at the base, conspicuously spreading. Staminodes absent. Pistil 1 per flower, of 2 fused carpels. Ovary superior, with 2 locules, the placentation axile. Style 1 per flower, the stigma 1, entire or shallowly 2-lobed. Ovules numerous. Fruits capsules, 3–4 cm long, 2-valved, ovoid, tapered to a beak at the tip, longitudinally dehiscent, the valves glabrous, with a woody texture. Seeds 2.5–4.0 mm long, oblong-elliptic in outline, flattened, dark brown, with a thin irregular longitudinal wing around the middle. 2n=40. April–May.

Introduced, uncommon and widely scattered, mostly in the southern half of the state (native of China, widely cultivated and escaped sporadically in the southern and eastern U.S.). Mesic upland forests; also roadsides, railroads, fencerows, and open disturbed areas.

Empress tree is commonly cultivated as a shade tree and ornamental for its beautiful, sweetly scented flowers. In the northern portion of its introduced range (including Missouri), the pithy branch tips are sometimes damaged by cold temperatures during harsh winters, especially on younger plants or stump sprouts. Flower buds are formed in the autumn and overwinter, and the plants flower in the spring before the leaves are fully expanded. After dehiscence, the large displays of woody fruits also persist during the winter months. In some southeastern states, Paulownia is also cultivated as an extremely fast-growing timber tree. The soft lightweight whitish wood is mostly exported. In some portions of southeastern Missouri, it is somewhat invasive in mesic upland forests.



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