Foxglove Tree (Paulownia Tomentosa)

One of the most spectacular of ornamental flowering trees, the Foxglove Tree is so called for its striking foxglove-like flowers.

There are 2 specimens of this fascinating tree in Hove Park, one within & the other near the Children's Playground


Its Latin name is in honour of the Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia whilst tomentosa refers to the tomentose (covered in hairs) nature of its impressive large  leaves. It was introduced in the mid 19th century from China where historical records describe its medicinal, ornamental, & timber uses as early as the 3rd century BC.

Its wood is lightweight, easy to carve, & has high dimensional stability. Carving Paulownia wood is a fine art form in Japan & China.

The buds form in autumn but may not develop into flowers if the temperature falls below 5C for a prolonged period.

After flowering, large egg-shaped fruits develop containing about 2,000 tiny winged seeds.. The soft, lightweight seeds were commonly used as a packing material by Chinese porcelain exporters in the 19th century & damage to packing cases helped the spread of the trees.

It is one of the fastest growing trees on earth & can reach maturity in 10 years. An old Chinese custom is to plant a tree when a baby girl is born & cut it down & carve into items for her dowry.
The roots can regenerate new, very fast growing stems so it can survive wildfire & function ecologically as a pioneer plant eventually being succeeded by taller trees as it cannot thrive in the shade.

Because of its capacity for rapid spread and tolerance of drought, pollution & different soil types it is regarded as a invasive weed tree in the more favourable climate of the Eastern USA.


In January, this seed case is empty.

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Copyright S Batey/Friends of Hove Park