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Products > Paulownia kawakamii
Paulownia kawakamii - Sapphire Dragon Tree

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figworts)
Origin: China (Asia)
Flower Color: Light Lavender
Bloomtime: Spring
Height: 25-40 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 0-10 F
Paulownia kawakamii (Sapphire Dragon Tree) - Paulownia kawakamii is a fast growing deciduous tree to 25 to 35 feet tall from Taiwan and southern China. It has enormous heart-shaped 5-lobed leaves that are softly hairy on both surfaces. The large round brown flower buds form in the fall and are held conspicuously on naked branches until they emerge just prior to the leaves in the spring. The pale lilac-blue flowers are 1-2 inches wide in long terminal panicles. Hardy into USDA zone 6. Plant in full sun in most any soil. Prune while young to desired form after which little attention is needed. The wood is very light, soft, and warp-resistant so is used extensively in Asia for making wooden chests (including coffins), musical instruments, and wooden shoes. We have had customers request long straight limbs to use in making surfboards. Paulownia are considered to be deep rooted trees that generally do not lift pavement but they will seek out leaky sewer and leach lines so placement of the tree by at least 20 feet away from these is recommended. The 15 year old tree in our nursery is already 35 feet tall so this tree may actually get a little larger than we thought, though most of its growth was in its first 10 years and it has seemed to slow. Paulownia was named in honor of Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna, the princess daughter of daughter of Tzar Paul I of Russia and who married King William II of the Netherlands and is a genus of 17 deciduous Asian trees that has long been placed in either the Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) or the Bignonia family (Bignoniaceae) but more recently taxonomists have put in its own family, the Paulowniaceae. The most common of the Paulownia, P. tomentosa, or the Empress Tree, is unknown in its natural habitat yet has escaped cultivation to become naturalized from New York to Georgia. These trees are sometimes also called the Foxglove Tree since the flowers resemble this perennial. We first received a single specimen of this tree in 1994 from landscape architect Isabelle Greene and started offering it in the nursery in 1997.  The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Paulownia kawakamii.