The Princess Tree
The Princess Tree, also known as The Empress Tree, was brought to the United States from China as a decorative plant in the eighties. Since then, it has taken over many landscapes and gardens due to the fact that it is the fastest growing tree in the world.
What's In a Name?
The Princess Tree was named after Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia. The Grand Duchess was born on January 18, 1795 and married William II of the Netherlands, Duke of Orange when she was twenty one. A Dutch botanist named the plant Paulownia tomentosa in her honor after it was introduced to Europe by the East India Trading Company. Anna Pavlovna died at age seventy in March of 1865.
Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna
Logo of the East India Trading Company. You can see the brand in the movie series "Pirates of the Caribbean".
A Princess tree in bloom.
The Princess Tree is deciduous, meaning it sheds its leaves every year. The leaves are heart shaped and the blossoms are violet colored. It belongs in the kingdom Plantae and it is an Angiosperm, or a flowering plant. It is a Eudicot, which is basically a dicot, and it is an Asterid, which means it and other like plants came from a common ancestor.
How The Tree Hurts Our Ecosystem
Once again, the Princess Tree is the fastest growing tree in the world. This is more often bad than good. The seeds from the tree are carried by natural elements over many miles. Once it takes root, it is only a matter of weeks before all of the plant life in that area die out because they are not receiving proper nutrients. The new tree uses all the soil's nutrients up. Soon, the gardener that wanted one Princess Tree now has five and not much else. This tree has the ability to wreck an entire ecosystem.
The Princess Tree is all that grows in this forest after a fire. This prevents other plants from growing back.
Paulownia tomentosa grows nearly anywhere.
The Princess Tree can grow up to fifty feet tall and two feet in diameter.
Location, Location, Location
Paulownia tomentosa was brought to Europe as a decorative plant from China in the 1830s. Immigrants then brought seeds and small plants with them as they moved around. The tree is found in twenty five states from Maine to Texas.
How Does Paulownia tomentosa Hurt?
The Princess Tree is a hardy plant. It can withstand acidic soil, drought conditions, fire, and even concrete. It grows near rivers and on the rocky part ofmountains or canyons. The Princess Tree, if not fully removed, can grow through several feet of concrete and asphalt. The rapid growing process of this plant (it can grow up to fifteen feet in one season) paired with its near indestructibility, makes The Princess Tree a threat to many ecosystems. Thankfully, the tree is fairly easy to get rid of if you catch it in time. Regular weed killer will get rid of a sapling, or the stump removal system will work on a larger tree.