The large Paulownia in Cloverly Park is renowned throughout Pa.

? Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.

With large flowers that come in varying shades, the Paulownia tomentosa is not native to the Eastern United States, but it grows all over the place.

Also known as a foxglove or royal empress tree, the species is originally from China. In that nation, its hardwood is prized — to the point where the sale price is high enough to incentivize theft.

Here’s the story of how often it happened in Fairmount Park.

Avatar photo

Avi Wolfman-Arent

Avi Wolfman-Arent is a host on 90.9 FM and an education reporter with WHYY News, where he's worked since 2014. Prior to that he covered nonprofits for the Chronicle of Philanthropy and education technology...