UACES Facebook Empress Tree

Empress Tree

(May 2012)

QuestionWe live in NW Arkansas and have what we think is an Elephant Ear tree, the big leaves look like the elephant ear plant. We like the tree but it is in a bad location, it is at the corner of the garage, during the growing season it extends over the side walk and grows higher than the roof line we continually have to keep it cut back. I would like to relocate it but not sure when the right time is and most importantly how big the root system is, the trunk is about 5” in dia. I am pretty sure some of the roots are under the side walk and drive way and may be under the garage foundation. Any ideas?

AnswerThere is no such thing as an elephant ear tree. I think you probably have a royal paulownia tree, or empress tree-- Paulownia tomentosa. It grows huge leaves when it is in a juvenile state. As the tree ages the leaves get much smaller and it blooms with purple flowers. The resulting fruit are woody capsules which pop open and scatter seeds everywhere, which can germinate and come up in flower beds, etc. It is not a hugely desirable tree, but many folks like them. You can move it in the fall as it is going dormant. Take as much of the root system as you can easily move in a root ball.


(August 2010)

QuestionThis came up in our flower garden three years ago we cut it down first year. We left it alone last year, and now this year it has multiplied to three stalks. It's about six feet tall and the leaves are about 14 inches wide. So far it hasn't produced any flowers.

AnswerWe get samples of this every year. I often refer to it as the Jack-in-the-beanstalk tree, because of its rampant young growth. The tree is Royal Paulownia or Empress Tree—Paulownia tomentosa. This year many very young trees bloomed with what looked like purple candelabras—I think last year’s copious rainfall had something to do with that. Normally they don’t start blooming until they are around 5 to 7 years old. The tree does produce pretty purple flowers but then they form woody seed capsules which disperse their seed and you end up with weedy seedlings coming up everywhere. Because they are fast growing they also are fairly soft wooded and can start falling apart with age. All in all, not a great yard tree.

 

QuestionThis came up in our flower garden three years ago we cut it down first year. We left it alone last year, and now this year it has multiplied to three stalks. It's about six feet tall and the leaves are about 14 inches wide. So far it hasn't produced any flowers.

AnswerWe get samples of this every year. I often refer to it as the Jack-in-the-beanstalk tree, because of its rampant young growth. The tree is Royal Paulownia or Empress Tree—Paulownia tomentosa. This year many very young trees bloomed with what looked like purple candelabras—I think last year’s copious rainfall had something to do with that. Normally they don’t start blooming until they are around 5 to 7 years old. The tree does produce pretty purple flowers but then they form woody seed capsules which disperse their seed and you end up with weedy seedlings coming up everywhere. Because they are fast growing they also are fairly soft wooded and can start falling apart with age. All in all, not a great yard tree.


(February)

QuestionCan you tell me if the Royal Empress Tree is suitable for zone 8?

AnswerRoyal Empress tree-- Paulownia tomentosa will grow fine in zone 8. Do be aware that it is a fast growing tree and can be fairly short lived and messy. It does have beautiful purple flowers in the spring, but the woody seed capsules that result spread seed which can grow readily in unwanted locations.


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