Foxglove Tree identification

The Foxglove Tree Paulownia tomentosa, 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.

Foxglove Tree identification – pale violet foxglove-like flowers, gigantic leaves, egg-shaped fruit in winter and felt-covered flower buds. 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.

foxglove tree in July

Foxglove tree in July, after flowering. The tree comes into leaf after it flowers

foxglove tree leaf

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.

foxglove tree flowers

The flowers are pale violet and open in spring, just before the leaves. This photo was taken in May.

foxglove tree flowers

The flowers are arranged along an erect stalk known as a panicle. In this photo some of the flowers are open and hanging down, whilst some have yet to emerge from the tan-coloured buds.

foxglove tree flower

Close-up of a flower

foxglove tree fruit

The fruit are egg-shaped with a beak. They are formed by July.The fruits split open in autumn and shed thousands of tiny seeds.

foxglove tree buds

Flower buds in December, covered in a woolly fuzz of hairs.

foxglove tree bark

The bark has shallow ridges

Tree in December.

There are no terminal leaf buds and the lateral buds, seen here above the leaf scars, are minute. The shoot is covered in fine hairs.

Fruit in January.