Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont

Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White

Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Sieb. & Zucc. ex Steud. Princess tree, empress tree, royal paulownia. Family Paulowniaceae. ITIS Taxonomic Serial Number 33460. USDA PLANTS Symbol PATO2.

Images • Branchlet with leaves. • Individual leaf. • Branchlet with flower buds. • Close-up of pith. • Flowers. • Close-up of flower. • Close-up of fruits. • Herbarium sheet 1. • Herbarium sheet 2. • Herbarium sheet 3. • Herbarium sheet 4. • Herbarium sheet 5. • Herbarium sheet 6.

Detailed Description:

Plant habit and life style. Plants Angiosperms, synoecious, (5–)10–15(–30) m tall.

Stems. Pith chambered or hollow. Young twigs (1-year-old or less) brown or tan, pubescent. Twigs (2–4 years old) glabrous or pubescent. Leaf scars oval or round, bundle scars numerous, stipule scars absent. Bark of mature trunks furrowed.

Buds. Buds axillary or superposed, tan, ellipsoid, blunt, pubescent, tomentose, bud scales imbricate.

Leaves. Leaves deciduous, simple, petiolate, opposite, 15–30(–80) cm long, (8–)15–30(–80) cm wide, cordate or ovate, leaf margins entire, unlobed or shallowly lobed, palmately lobed, leaf apices acuminate, leaf bases cordate. Leaf upper surface green, pubescent, tomentose. Leaf lower surface green, pubescent, stellate or tomentose. Leaf venation palmate or pinnate. Petioles 10–20 cm long, glabrate or pubescent. Stipules absent.

Flowers. Flowering April or May. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, panicles, flowers stalked. Flowers bisexual, hypogynous. Perianth. Calyx radially symmetric, synsepalous. Sepals 5 per flower, calyx tubes 8–15 mm long, tan, sepal apices obtuse, pubescent. Corolla bilaterally symmetric, tubular, sympetalous. Petals 5 per flower, corolla tubes 50–60 mm long, reflexed or spreading or ascending, purple or violet, petal apices rounded, pubescent, caducous. Androecium. Stamens 4 per flower, alternating with petals, separate, staminodes present. Gynoecium. Ovaries superior, pistils 1 per flower. Gynoecium syncarpous, 2 carpels per flower, styles 1 per pistil.

Fruits. Fruits capsules, 2.5–8 cm long, brown, fruit maturation 1 years.

Habitat. Habitat bottomland forests or disturbed and weedy areas or mixed forest edges or suburban plantings.

Special Diagnostic Characters. The large, woody, ovoid capsules often persist through the winter.

Cite this publication as: ‘Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White (2005 onwards). Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont: Identification, Descriptions, Illustrations, and Glossary. Version: March 7, 2006. <>’.

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