Plant Catalpa, Not Princess Tree!

Sep 28, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Some people fuss about our native catalpas – both species grow here bignoniodes and speciosa – saying they are weedy and then go right and plant a horrible invasive non-native tree that closely resembles catalpa. Paulownia tomentosa, Princess Tree, has similar large heart shaped leaves and a showy cluster of flowers, purple in this case. One paulownia tree can produce 20 million seeds each year, and they’re moved all over by wind or water. As a result, Paulownia colonizes cliffs, roadsides, and riparian areas where it out competes   native plants that would normally grow in those specialized places. To make control of these noxious, imported pests even more difficult, paulownias resprout from roots if they are cut or burned -- herbicides must be used to eliminate them.  Sadly, huge plantations of these trees are grown by people who bought into the story that there was a lucrative export market for their wood.