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Paulownia elongata / Royal Empress tree questions.  RSS feed

 
Chris Giffin
Posts: 14
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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So we had to remove our biggest tree which was shading our house. I'm looking for something that will grow rapidly to replace it while a slower growing more useful tree such as a shagbark hickory got established. Does anyone have any experience with these in a zone 6a? I'm in Cincinnati, Ohio. After some research I can't decide if its going to take over the entire neighborhood or its safe to plant here.
 
Jay Hayes
Posts: 64
Location: Missouri
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I have had some experience with the tree.  I can't confirm that it grows well north of Missouri...but I can confirm that it has a tendency to spread and while it has lovely leaves and impressive flowers, it is not a very good yard tree.  I would caution against planting it too near a structure.  As is common, its fast growth yields very weak wood.  The larger trees I know of, 20" diamter at breast ht, all have large limbs that have snapped off throughout the canopy

To be honest I'd suggest planting a silver maple for your fast grower.  They have the same spreading issues (they also tend to clog gutters with their seeds), and weak wood, but they are native and I guarantee a silver maple will hold together for the few decades you'd want it til the hickory was established.

Just some thoughts. 
 
Chris Giffin
Posts: 14
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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Thanks for the response. The tree we removed was actually a maple..For some reason they're not doing well in this little section. All of the ones in mine and my neighbors yard are having issues. Arborist told me they needed fertilized and he'd gladly do it for 500 dollars hah. It was dropping a lot of limbs and had the whole north side of its bark was wet and rotting. Hickories are in place..found a decent deal on two 2 year old trees. I'm patient but this summer is gonna be painful for me and all the plants with no shade at all.
 
John Duffy
Posts: 40
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Hi Chris. I'm an hour North-West of you. Don't plant the Royal Empress tree.  The nursery ads are very compelling but, the results of this tree are LESS than impressive. If you're looking for a fairly fast growing tree, try a Tulip Polar or hybrid Tulip Poplar...Silver Maples are great IF you enjoy cleaning your gutters twice a month. I have 4 in my front yard and the shade is wonderful. The "whirly birds," not so much...They are gutter and downspout clogging *&%^$#@!!! 
Shagbark Hickory will grow fine in Cincinnati. However, it will take a long time to get to an appreciable size
 
Chris Giffin
Posts: 14
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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Thanks for the response..yah the paulownia sounds like a permies dream so I assumed it wasn't as great as they made it sound hehe. I have a couple tulip poplars coming up as well..I already got a few root cuttings for the paulownia started so if its no good Ill just chop it yearly for added mulch.  Thanks for the responses.
 
Eric Hanson
Posts: 34
Location: Southern Illinois
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OK, I am new to the forums, but I do have a royal empress tree in my front yard.  No, it did not grow as fast as the adds state, but it was still a fast grower and has stood up to strong winds.  I am south of you, but still in zone 6 and I think that the royal empress tree is now a beautiful shade tree.  Also, you might want to consider a specialized elm tree.  I found a site that sells dutch elm resistant (meaning it will get the blight but does not kill/maim the tree) and it too is a beautiful tree now and very fast growing.  Just my two cents.
 
Greg B Smith
Posts: 52
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Someone gave me an empress last winter.  The person that gave it to me thought it was a fig.  When it broke dormancy it was the size of pencil.  Last year it grew to 8 feet.  I moved it from my orchard to the septic drain to see if it would become a poop beast. It is now in full shade.  It is already 12 feet tall and no signs of checking up. It is shooting up babies all over the place.  I am in central mississippi zone 8 so we have a longer growing season.  It is a fast grower in the right place.  I would not want it close to my foundation.
 
Chris Giffin
Posts: 14
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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Eric Hanson do you have any problem with it making baby ones all over? or is our cold enough to stop that? If you could would you mind posting a picture of it? Thanks for the replies.
 
Eric Hanson
Posts: 34
Location: Southern Illinois
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Chris,

I have absolutely no problems whatsoever with it trying to spread.  It will drop seeds, but these are sterile.  I planted in the summer of 2007 from a dinky little seedling.  I would guess that it is now about 20 feet or so and a similar spread.  The fastest growth was in years 1-3 where it did grow about 6'/yr.  Now it is a great shade tree. 
Southern Illinois summers are brutal but this tree helps a lot.  It has HUGE leaves and creates dense shade.  We planted the tree both to give our yard some desperately needed shade, but it also helps shade the house in the morning as well.

Right now I am on my phone and can't get the pictures you want to see, and please believe me, you want to see them.  By now we get beautiful, fragrant flowers in spring.  Adds say this tree will grow 18 feet in the first year.  This is an
exaggeration, but it does grow quickly nonetheless.  In case you can't tell, I really like this tree.  When I get home I will send you the pictures you requested. I highly recommend this tree.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
Posts: 34
Location: Southern Illinois
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Here are my pictures.  I have had to trim up the branches in order to mow under them.  On branch did come down in heavy winds this winter, you can see it on the left.  This does not bother me in the slightest as I know that this area will grow back in this summer as existing branches aggressively grow to fill the void.
IMG_4528.JPG
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In Bloom
Empress-Tree-001.jpg
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Seedling
IMG_5297.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_5297.JPG]
Today--May 8 2017
 
Chris Giffin
Posts: 14
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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Thanks for the pictures Eric!
 
Eric Hanson
Posts: 34
Location: Southern Illinois
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Anytime
 
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