Paulownia tomentosa

Empress Tree/Princess Tree

 

Franklin & Marshall Campus, Buchanan Avenue, Lancaster PA (adjacent to the Susan and Benjamin Winter Visual Arts Center)

 

Len Eiserer

 

This Paulownia doesn’t approach the state champion in overall size but it is very tall for the species. Most mature Paulownia are about 40 feet tall; the Pennsylvania state champion is 57 feet tall; the F&M specimen, meanwhile, is closer to 75.  This is probably one of the tallest Princess Trees in the county.

     

A decade or two ago Paulownia wood was extremely valuable.  While cherry, oak, and hickory might sell for $5-8 per board-foot, Paulownia went for $20. This gave rise to tree rustlers who cut and stole Paulownia in the dead of night. And Lancaster County had a reputation for having lumber mills that would buy Paulownia stolen in Maryland “with no questions asked” [Brian Goodman, The Dagger, July 16, 2008].

 

This amazing species is the fastest growing hardwood, capable of adding as much as 15 feet a year when young.