Paulownia is popular for roadside planting and as an ornamental tree in China. It is soft and of little value when grown on plantations generally has widely spaced growth rings; and wood is harder and of higher value with close growth rings. Paulownia is important for making the soundboards of stringed musical instruments in China, Korea and Japan such as the guqin, guzheng, pipa,koto and kayagum. Because of its offordability, availability, tone and looks, it is also becoming more popular in the building of electric guitars.
Paulownia is known as kiri in Japanese, when a baby girl was born, it was once customary to plant a paulownia tree, and then to make it into a dresser as a wedding present when she married. In legend, it is said that the phoenix will only land on the Empress Tree and only when a good ruler is in power.
Pavlovnia but now usually spelled Paulownia, was named in honor of Anna Paulowna, queen consort of The Netherlands, daughter of Tsar Paul 1 of Russia. For the same reason, it is also called "princess tree".