Princess Tree

Invasive Species Leaflet IS-14 Paulownia tomentosa (North Carolina Forest Service)
Paulownia tomentosa is an extremely fast-growing competitor with native species in disturbed natural areas including forests, stream banks and steep rocky slopes. It tolerates high soil acidity, drought and low soil fertility enabling it to survive, grow and reproduce on harsh exposed sites. Roadsides provide ideal habitat and migration routes for this plant. In North Carolina it poses a particular problem in the foothills and mountains.

Paulownia tomentosa (North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox)
This plant is one of the fastest growing trees in the world. The canopy produces dense shade that makes it difficult to grow plants underneath, and it competes with native plants for nutrients and water. Once it is cut down, it will send up growth along the roots several feet out from the original tree.

Royal Paulownia: A Royal Pain (video, University of Maryland Extension)
When you experience the fragrance and see the huge panicle of violet flowers on Paulownia tomentosa, you can easily understand why it was brought to the United States as an ornamental. Problems arise in our native habitat due to the vast number of seeds the tree is capable of producing. The seeds need no special care and germinate immediately as thick as grass with the right conditions.

Princess Tree (
Princess tree is a small to medium sized deciduous tree reaching to a height of 30 to 60 feet. Because of the similarly shaped leaves, princess tree is sometimes confused with native catalpa (Catalpa speciosa, C. bignonioides), which also has long, slender beanlike seed pods. Princess tree easily adapts to disturbed habitats including previously burned areas, forests defoliated by pests (such as the gypsy moth) and landslides. It can colonize rocky cliffs and scoured riparian zones where it may compete with rare plants in these marginal habitats. Its ability to sprout prolifically from adventitious buds on stems and roots allows it to survive fire, cutting and even bulldozing in construction areas.