Foxglove Tree Paulownia tomentosa
The Foxglove Tree, also known as the Royal Paulownia or the Empress Tree or the Princess Tree, is native to China and was first introduced to Britain in 1838. It is one of a genus of 6 or more species long cultivated in the East and named by a Dutch botanist after Princess Anna Pavlovnia, daughter of the Czar of Russia. Paulownia is the Dutch version of her name. The tree has spectacular foxglove-like flowers, after frost-free winters, and huge leaves. It is grown as an ornamental tree in large gardens. Its scientific species name ‘tomentosa’ means covered in hairs. This applies to the shoots and buds. Click on any photo to enlarge it.
The leaves are huge. This one is about 18cm x 15cm but they can be as large as 35 cm x 25cm. They can be mistaken for Catalpa leaves but are more heart-shaped.
The flowers are pale violet and open in spring, just before the leaves. This photo was taken in May.