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What are the purple flowering trees in bloom right now along Rt. 76 / the Schuylkill?

Tall, scraggly, with flowers that remind me of wisteria? I see them along a lot of highways in PA, but I haven't been able to identify them. Thanks.
Last Updated: Jun 01, 2016  |  150 Views

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The tree  that you are referring to is Paulownia tomentosa ( or Empress Tree, Royal Paulownia). It is exceedingly adaptable, has large leaves, spreads easily, is pretty in bloom but not recommended for residential properties. It is often seen in bloom this time of year, along roadsides or along train track routes. It's also a lovely addition to the plantings at Logan Square in Philadelphia. If you go to Longwood, you will see it there.

Philadelpha biologist David Hewitt wrote a very interesting blog post on the history of Paulownia.

Hope this helps!

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