Monday, November 2, 2009

The mystery plant identified!

It was a shock to discover that the plant I had thought was a sunflower was no such thing. When I went to cut it down, I discovered it was a woody plant. Something in the back of my mind said Paulownia. It's not a tree I'm familiar with, but I thought I remembered reading that it had big leaves and was invasive. I looked it up, and sure enough, that's what it was: Paulownia tomentosa, a native of China, common names royal empress tree. princess tree, dragon tree, etc.

Image: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - Forestry Archive,

Even though this tree is considered to be invasive, most of the web hits I got touted its beauty, quality of the wood, and rapid growth. Many mentioned that it is highly valued in Japan. The fact that it is fast growing makes it attractive for some purposes. It also has attractive flowers, and the leaves are indeed impressive. For a different take, see the Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Plant Working Group fact sheet on Paulownia - it makes their "least wanted" list.    

In my book, anything that grows something like 8 feet in 2-3 months is almost by definition invasive. And the damn thing is firmly rooted. I've wrestled it part way out of the ground, but I'm going to need help getting those roots to let go. And it is reputed to sprout easily from roots, so I need to get it out of there.

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