The response of the invasive princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa) to wildland fire and other disturbances in an Appalachian hardwood forest.
This study examined the response of princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa) to different disturbances and its potential to spread throughout its current range in the U.S. The study was established in Shawnee State Forest in southern Ohio, USA, which has historically experienced disturbances from mining, logging, ice storms and wildfire. Plots were established for vegetation sampling where fire had occurred with and without princess tree present, and where no fire had occurred with and without princess tree present. To determine the influence of disturbance types on the density of princess tree, redundancy analysis (RDA) was used. High stem density of princess tree seedlings occurred in areas that experienced high fire intensities and herbicide treatment. Seedlings on southwest slopes increased in abundance as the time from the last logging activity increases. Princess tree saplings were present in greater densities in areas that experienced medium fire intensities and the highest ice storm damage. Sapling density is greatest as ground cover and vegetation height increases and slope decreases. Princess trees reach maximum stem density on northeast slopes in areas not impacted by the 2009 fire. All disturbances considered, including wildfire, have created conditions conducive to princess tree growth and expansion into forest areas.