The beautiful paulownia tree has been classified as an invasive weed in some states. Fortunately for those who love these trees, Juniper Russo reports that they can be considered crops...
Click here for a picture of a paulownia tree in bloom:
And here's a picture of paulownia wood, used in place of harder-to-grow hardwoods on a wall:
The trees really are amazing. Once, about thirty years ago, I saw one growing in the floor of an old barn. A seed had blown in and taken root in the dirt floor. The tree trunk grew about three feet up from the ground, then turned at almost a ninety-degree angle and grew fifteen feet parallel to the ground, then kinked again and grew straight up over the barn!
Nobody in my family had ever seen anything like that tree...thirty years ago. During that time they've been introduced into Scott County, Virginia, and now compete for attention with native dogwoods, redbuds, lilacs, catalpas, and flowering fruit trees along Route 23 in spring.
Paulownia seeds are not edible nuts, but they look like nuts, and hang on the tree even after the flower blooms appear in spring...creating a whole new image for that old ditty about "gathering nuts in May." (It was originally "nuts and may," which doesn't make much sense either.)