Empress Tree

It is the time of the year that our resident female monarch (Paulownia tomentosa) is showing off her collection of fancy gowns and fine jewelry. If you head back a young specimen to ground (stooling) every winter, you will never get the jewelry(flowers), but you will be rewarded with gigantic tropical-looking leaves about two feet across on next year’s new shoots.

Paulownia flower

Coincidentally, Paulownia is the only wood of choice for making the traditional Chinese zither, or Guzheng (古筝). Here is a short Youtube video of a Chinese maestro playing a favorite piece: The Fishermen’s Evening Song (渔舟唱晚).

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