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A tree to about 40 ft high; young stems stellate-hairy at first, soon glabrous. Leaves ovate, 6 to 8 in. long, 5 to 6 in. wide, shortly pointed, cordate, entire, villous or tomentose beneath. Inflorescence consisting of a central axis 6 to 14 in. long, bearing in its upper part numerous almost sessile cymes, but with one or two pairs of shorter side-branches on which the flowers are similarly arranged; inflorescence-axes hairy. Corolla white, lilac or violet, foxglove-shaped, 2 to 25⁄8 in. long. Capsules ovoid.
A native of China from Yunnan to Hupeh and Szechwan; introduced to Kew from China in 1979. For the paulownia once grown wrongly as P. fargesii, see P. lilacina on page 101. This species and P. kawakamii constitute Dr Hu’s section Kawakamia, differing from P. tomentosa in the inflorescence, which in that species is in the form of a panicle whose central axis bears slender, progressively shorter, side-branches, while in the section Kawakamia the flower-clusters are sessile along the central axis and on a few lateral branches springing from this and almost equal to it in thickness.
P. thyrsoidea Rehd