Royal Paulownia  
Paulownia tomentosa
tree of the family Scrofulariaceae,

of the figwort, or "herbs to scrofula" (Latin scrofulae, "scrofula").

Etymology: "Royal Paulownia" comes from Anna Paulownia, daughter of the tsar Paul Ier. "tomentosa" reminds tomentose (silky) underside of the leaf.
Origin: North of China, Korea; introduced into France in 1834.
Habitat: The Royal Paulownia develops very well in towns, where air is contaminated, the soil compact and badly drained and where drought is frequent. But it prefers a soil deep, humid and well drained.
Habitat: it does not tolerate shady situation.
Hardiness: zone 6 (it supports cold until -23 °C or -9 °F).
10-12 m tall.
It flourishes in May. Its flowers are grouped in upright panicles. They have a form of glove finger, as the flower of the digital.
Uses: in China, its wood is used in joinery, in clog factory and in fancy. In Europe, the Royal Paulownia is an ornamental tree, but it resists urban pollution more or less well.
Where to see it in Paris? Place of Italy; garden of Luxembourg, between tennis and the Orangery; garden of Trocadéro.

Difference Catalpa Royal Paulownia
Flowers panicles erect, white-spotted red-brown; June-July, after the leaves in panicles, upright, purple,
in May, before leaves
Buds and leaves verticillate by 2 or 3, slightly brought forward * opposite*
Leaves 30-40 cm 40-50 cm
Top glabrous pubescent
Underside pubescent tomentose (very pubescent)
Fruits long 20-30 cm pods ovoid capsules of 4 cm.

* a mnemonic device to remember the difference: in "catalpa", there is 3 " a ", and it makes think of leaves of whorled by 3, while in "Paulownia", there is only 2 " a ", and its leaves are by 2 (opposite)!

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