Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Princess-tree - Paulownia tomentosa   (Thunberg) Siebold & Zuccarini ex Steudel Only member of Paulownia in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Scrophulariales » Family Paulowniaceae
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Author(Thunberg) Siebold & Zuccarini ex Steudel
DistributionThroughout much of the state, except scarce in the northern Mountains, in the Sandhills, and in the southern 2/3 of the Coastal Plain. First collected in 1920 in Polk County ("cultivated and naturalized"), then in the 1930s in Orange County.

Native of China; in N.A. MA to IL and MO, south to FL and TX; also OR, WA.
AbundanceLocally quite common in the southern Mountains; fairly common in the Piedmont, uncommon in the northern Coastal Plain, but rare in the Sandhills. It is an aggressive weedy tree in parts of the Mountains.
HabitatRoadsides, edges of woods, railroads, disturbed woods, treefall gaps, campus weed. It is a noxious exotic on rocky roadcuts, such as along I-40 through Pigeon River Gorge and in the Hickory Nut Gorge region of Rutherford-Henderson-Buncombe counties.
PhenologyFlowering April-June -- very showy when in flower, especially as the leaves are not yet fully emerged; fruiting September-October, and remaining visible into the winter.
IdentificationThis non-native tree is a familiar one in the state, especially so in the western parts. It is easily identified by the combination of small to medium tree, abundant and large lavender-violet, tubular flowers, and large broadly ovate leaves -- often 6-10 inches long and wide. The large brown, rounded capsules are easily seen in fall and winter, as they are arranged in a conical panicle.
Taxonomic CommentsFor decades placed within the Scrophulariaceae, but molecular studies have suggested that the genus Paulownia belongs in its own family -- Paulowniaceae.

Other Common Name(s)
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
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US Status
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B.A. SorrieDisturbed area by RR, S of Niagara, April 2012. MoorePhoto_non_natural
B.A. SorrieSame place, Sept 2021. MoorePhoto_non_natural
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