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We live in NW Arkansas and have what we think is an Elephant Ear tree, the big leaves
look like the elephant ear plant. We like the tree but it is in a bad location, it
is at the corner of the garage, during the growing season it extends over the side
walk and grows higher than the roof line we continually have to keep it cut back.
I would like to relocate it but not sure when the right time is and most importantly
how big the root system is, the trunk is about 5” in dia. I am pretty sure some of
the roots are under the side walk and drive way and may be under the garage foundation.
There is no such thing as an elephant ear tree. I think you probably have a royal
paulownia tree, or empress tree-- Paulownia tomentosa. It grows huge leaves when it
is in a juvenile state. As the tree ages the leaves get much smaller and it blooms
with purple flowers. The resulting fruit are woody capsules which pop open and scatter
seeds everywhere, which can germinate and come up in flower beds, etc. It is not a
hugely desirable tree, but many folks like them. You can move it in the fall as it
is going dormant. Take as much of the root system as you can easily move in a root
This came up in our flower garden three years ago we cut it down first year. We left
it alone last year, and now this year it has multiplied to three stalks. It's about
six feet tall and the leaves are about 14 inches wide. So far it hasn't produced any
We get samples of this every year. I often refer to it as the Jack-in-the-beanstalk
tree, because of its rampant young growth. The tree is Royal Paulownia or Empress
Tree—Paulownia tomentosa. This year many very young trees bloomed with what looked
like purple candelabras—I think last year’s copious rainfall had something to do with
that. Normally they don’t start blooming until they are around 5 to 7 years old. The
tree does produce pretty purple flowers but then they form woody seed capsules which
disperse their seed and you end up with weedy seedlings coming up everywhere. Because
they are fast growing they also are fairly soft wooded and can start falling apart
with age. All in all, not a great yard tree.
Can you tell me if the Royal Empress Tree is suitable for zone 8?
Royal Empress tree-- Paulownia tomentosa will grow fine in zone 8. Do be aware that
it is a fast growing tree and can be fairly short lived and messy. It does have beautiful
purple flowers in the spring, but the woody seed capsules that result spread seed
which can grow readily in unwanted locations.
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