Paulownia tomentosa - (Thunb.) Sieb. & Zucc. ex Steud.
Royal Paulownia
Other English Common Names: Princess-tree
Other Common Names: princesstree
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Sieb. & Zucc. ex Steud. (TSN 33460)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.159590
Element Code: PDSCR2Q010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Figwort Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Scrophulariales Scrophulariaceae Paulownia
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Paulownia tomentosa
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNR), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Virginia (SNA), West Virginia (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, ARexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GA, ILexotic, INexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MA, MDexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, NCexotic, NJexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, VAexotic, WVexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Medium/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: An aggressive invader of many types of disturbed areas in the eastern U.S. that is apparently able to infest some high-quality native species habitats.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Low
I-Rank Review Date: 21Dec2005
Evaluator: Maybury, K.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: China, Japan, Korea (IPANE 2004).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: No significant abiotic alterations known.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Moderate significance
Comments: Can establish in disturbed areas and very quickly grow to the size of a large tree; its rapid growth rate---up to 15 feet in one year (Starbuck 2002)----and ability for form a quick canopy has led to its designaton as a "miracle tree" or "super tree" (Starbuck 2002;, not dated). However, it does not typically form a dense thickets or canopies (PIER, not dated).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High/Moderate significance
Comments: May establish in previously burned areas and forests defoliated by pests or landslides (Remaley 1998), presumably supressing seedlings of native species, at least for a time (Paulownia is a short-lived tree). "Can crowd out native trees" (IPANE 2004).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: No evidence of disproportionate impacts on particular species.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Typically, this is a species of disturbed areas such as roadsides and other rights-of-way, vacant lots and other very open disturbed areas (IPANE 2004, 2005). However, it has also been reported growing on cliffs and in scoured riparian zones where "it may compte with rare plants in these marginal habitats" (Remaley 1998, emphasis added). (2005) notes that this species "usually invades roadsides, stream banks, forest edges, and other disturbed areas, but has the ability to invade a wide variety of places."

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Much of the eastern U.S. from Massachusetts to Texas (Kartesz 1999, IPANE 2004).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Some negative impacts in most parts of range presumed.

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Moderate significance

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:High significance
Comments: Widely adapatable and found in many site conditions (NBII and ISSG 2005).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Assumed not expanding rapidly in all directions nor decreasing.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: Introduced to the U.S. in the mid-1800s (Remaley 1998) but some range expansion still seems possible. Not reported escaped in Hawaii thus far but considered "likely to be invasive in Hawaii and on other Pacific Islands" by PIER (not dated) using a screening process based on species biology and behavior. It also seems at least possible that this species could escape in parts of the western U.S. warmer than USDA Zone 4 or 5. Most sources report that this tree is quite tolerant of dry (as well as moist), exposed conditions. So far, in New England, this plant has remained near the coast in its distribution (IPANE 2004).

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Widely sold and promoted as an ornamental, a timber crop, and for revegetating very disturbed areas such as surface mines. The seeds are also easily transported long distances by wind and water (Remaley 1998)

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Medium/Low significance
Comments: At least some expansion or increase in abundance is inferred given increasing levels of disturbance in general across most landscapes and the active promotion of this species as a fast-growing timber crop by many U.S. silvacultural sites. Such tree plantations "could serve as focal points for dispersal" (IPANE 2004).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Low significance
Comments: A pioneer species that needs bare soil and direct sunlight for good seedling establishment (NBII and ISSG 2005). Relies greatly on disturbance to move into a natural habitat (IPANE 2004).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Unknown

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High significance
Comments: Has extremely agressive characteristics. Fast growth rate with seedlings starting to flower in as little as 8 years (Remaley 1998). President Jimmy Carter reportedly once said of this tree "don't put your face over it or you may get a mouthful of leaves." Worse, a single tree is capable of producing an estimated 20 million seeds per year (2,000-2,500 seeds in each capsule) (IPANE 2004, NBII and ISSG 2005). Can spread by suckering as well as by seed (Remaley 1998) and resprouts vigorously from root fragments as well as stumps (Tu 2002). Remaley (1998) said: "its ability to sprout prolifically from adventitious buds on stems and roots allows it to survive fire, cutting, and even bulldosing in construction areas."

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Low

17. General Management Difficulty:Moderate significance
Comments: Can be contolled by cutting and immediately applying a herbicide to the stumps or by repeated cutting for several years (Tu 2002). New seedlings can be hand-pulled, preferably when the soil is moist because the entire root must be removed (see Remaley 1998).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Low significance
Comments: Existing trees can be eliminated but new seedlings must be removed until growth of other vegetation prevents new establishment.

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance
Comments: Cutting and targeted herbicide applciation the the cut should minimize non-target impacts.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:High significance
Comments: Planted on private lands for ornamental or commercial purposes and will reinvade from these sources.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Deam, C. C. 1940. Flora of Indiana. Division of Forestry, Dept. of Conservation, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1236 pp.

  • Invasive Plant Atlas of New England [IPANE]. 2004. Paulownia tomentosa. Available: Accessed 2005.

  • 2005 (last updated). Princesstree. Available: Accessed 2005.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.

  • National Biological Information Infrastructure [NBII] and Invasive Species Specialist Group [ISSG], 2005 (last modified). Global Invasive Species Database: Paulownia tomentosa (tree). Available: Accessed 2005.

  • Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk [PIER]. Not dated. Weed risk assessments for Hawaii and Pacific Islands. Available: Accessed 2005.

  • Not dated. Is it an alien invader?... Is it a weed?... Is it a crop? It's SuperTree! Online: . Accessed 2005.

  • Remaley, T. 1998. Princess tree. Available: Accessed 2005.

  • Starbuck, C. 2002. Miracle trees: Part 1, royal paulownia. Missouri Environment and Garden 8(5). University of Missouri, Columbia, and the Missouri Botanical Garden, Columbia.

  • Tu, M. 2002. Weed notes: Paulownia tomentosa. The NatureConservancy, Wildland Invasive Species Team. Available: Accessed 2005.

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