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Foxglove Tree Paulownia tomentosa (Scrophulariaceae) HEIGHT to 15m. Small deciduous tree with an upright habit. BARK Smooth and grey. BRANCHES Mostly level. LEAVES Opposite and very broadly ovate with heart-shaped bases and tapering tips, often with forward-pointing side lobes. The upper surface is light green and hairy and the lower surface is grey-green and much more hairy. The petiole is about 15cm long, but may be as much as 45cm long, and is very downy. REPRODUCTIVE PARTS The flowers are borne in lax upright spikes about 30cm long; each flower is brown and downy in bud, but opens to become violet, with a yellowish tinge inside the corolla tube. There are 5 spreading lobes and the flower is about 6cm long. The fruit is a short-stalked, ovoid capsule about 5cm long with a tapering tip and glossy-green outer skin; it splits open to release many small, whitish, winged seeds. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION A native of the mountains of China, brought as an ornamental tree to Britain and Ireland, where it is often seen in large gardens and sometimes as a street tree.
- © ANDREW CLEAVE/Nature Photographers
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