Paulownia tomentosa is commonly known as the Foxglove Tree, Princess Tree or Empress Tree and is a deciduous tree native to China. It is an extremely fast-growing tree with seeds that disperse readily so has become naturalised in the eastern United States and is becoming naturalised in western and central Europe… partly due to the light and fluffy seeds being used as packing material in shipping crates. Its large, fragrant violet flowers appear in Spring before the leaves and resemble foxglove flowers accounting for the most popular common name. Seeds are produced in capsules containing lots of tiny seeds; they are winged and disperse on the wind. It tolerates pollution and many soil types even growing on walls and cracks in the pavement, but needs full sun for proper growth.
It is increasingly grown as an ornamental in parks because of its fragrant and beautiful flowers.
Funky Facts File: Foxglove trees survive wildfires because fast-growing stems can regenerate from roots. It is a favourite wood for making musical instruments and carvings. In China they are often planted when girls are born as they mature at around the same age.