We discovered Paulownia Trees when some friends visited Plains, Georgia and Jimmy Carter's home on a trip. They mentioned these extremely fast growing trees filled with leaves the size of elephant ears. We live in the middle of a field with very few trees and the idea of lush shade trees that grow to full size in three to five years was very appealing so we went on a hunt for them.
The Paulownia, also known as the Princess Tree, comes originally from China and one is planted when a girl baby is born. It's harvested when she marries and a dresser, or another piece of furniture, is made from the wood for her new home. What a lovely tradition!
These trees can grow as much as 12 feet tall the first year and up to 30 feet tall by the third year. They do need lots of water and fertilizer to grow, but they make wonderful shade trees.
Just for fun, here's a picture I found on the web of the size of one leaf!