Paulownia fortunei, foxglove tree seeds
Paulownia fortunei Paulownia fortunei belongs to the family of the Paulowinacae, the foxglove trees. It is native to China but occurs also in Vietnam. P. fortune is the only species in the genus Paulownia that occurs in Vietnam. P. fortunei is better known as empress tree “Fast Blue”. P. fortunei grows as a tree and reaches a height of about 20 m. The bark is grayish brown and has various fine fissures. P. fortunei grows very fast in the first years. The heart shaped leaves have a long petiole and can get up to 40 to 50 cm long. Due to that the Fast Blue is planted as a shading plant. The leaves are pubescent and darker green on the upper side than on the bottom side. In the temperate zones the leaves fall down in autumn. The hermaphrodite, zygomorphic flowers of P. fortunei are the biggest in the genus Paulownia. They reach 10 cm in diameter. The flowers stand together in inflorescences. Those inflorescences get 40 cm long and stand erect on the branches. The flowers of the Fast Blue are slightly violet to lavender. They have a very intensive and pleasant odor. The flowers appear on the plant before the leaves. This gives the plant an extraordinary look in spring. Blooming time starts at the end of April or in the beginning of May. In contrast to other Paulownia species, P. fortunei flowers quite fast. One has not to wait 3 years until the first flowers appear. The fruit is a capsule that includes various small seeds. The wood of Fast Blue has a high quality and can be used to build furniture. In Europe P. fortunei is used as an ornamental plant.
Germination of Paulownia seeds:
The seeds of Paulownia fortunei do not need pretreatment. A stratification period of 1-2 weeks at a temperature of about 4°C in the fridge can raise the germination success, but is not necessary. The seeds can be as well put directly on the substrate. The seeds should only be pressed slightly into the substrate. They need light to germinate. If the substrate is kept moist at a temperature of about 23°C, germination occurs after 2-3 weeks. The adult plant is winter hardy up to -14°C and prefers a sunny place.
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