Get The Chainsaw Out
This is Empress Tree, also called Princess Tree (Paulownia tomentosa). It is advertised as the fastest growing tree in the world.
The blooms are a showy pale violet. They are fuzzy and sticky to the touch. They remind me a bit of foxgloves blooms.
It is an aggressive ornamental tree introduced from East Asia in the 1840s. It will grow 30-60 ft. tall. According to the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council it often grows in disturbed areas that may be habitats for rare plants. It grows in acidic and infertile soils and is drought tolerant. This is an invasive tree in Georgia. By some it is a much treasured tree. It is highly prized in Asia for the quality of its timber and its ability to tolerate harsh environments.
The wood is easy to work with and is used to make furniture, musical instruments, wooden bowls and ornamental carvings. It has been harvested to extinction in Japan and because it is so fast growing it is popular in its native China for reforestation, roadside planting and as an ornamental tree. This tree is a good example of how a plant has its role in its native ecosystem but is invasive when taken outside of its native area.
This tree does not have a role in our garden and will continue to spread if we don't remove it. So, out comes the chain saw for initial removal. I read that resprouts are common after cutting. Its ability to sprout prolifically from adventitious buds on stems and roots allows it to survive fire and cutting. Ugh! Looks like we may be pulling sprouts for some time to come.
So many of the invasive species are here because they were introduced by us or accidentally in global trade. It is a good reminder to think twice about the plants you are buying. Be sure to know their history before you start a relationship with them in your garden.