A group of flowering trees, catching the sun, lights up a street corner with a lilac-tinted glow.

 

 

The colour of Paulownia flowers is gentle and transient.  The buds start a rich purple but the open flowers soon fade through violet to sepia.  The colour can’t compete with blue sky….

 

 

and recedes to grey on a cloudy day but against the sun the trees seem surrounded by a flowery haze.

 

 

Paulownia, is known in English as foxglove tree and its flowers show the close family connection with foxgloves.  In its native China the tree is it grown as a timber crop and its leaves are used as forage for cattle and pigs.  In some regions it is traditional to plant a Paulownia at the birth of a daughter, a practical tradition rather than a sentimental one as the tree is destined to be cut down when the girl marries with the timber supplying her dowry.

The species’ tolerance of pollution and of severe pruning makes it a popular street tree, unremarkable for much of the year but unmissable for a few brief weeks in the spring.

(Click on any photo for a closer view)