Driving down the Palisades Parkway yesterday, something caught my eye. A tall tree with beautiful purple flowers was jutting out from the solid green wall of the trees we were passing (below). What I didn't know was that the tree I was admiring could actually spell big trouble for New York state.

The battle against invasive species seems to be never-ending. While the spotted lanternfly and spongy moth are some of the biggest insect nuisances, several trees are also causing problems in New York, including the beautiful example I saw on the parkway.

Photo of a princess tree on the side of the Palisades Parkway
The princess tree is an invasive species in New York causing problems for local plants (TSM Poughkeepsie)

The Princess Tree in New York State

I only recently learned about the problem on Facebook. "These purple trees have overtaken the native forest on Hook Mountain in Upper Nyack", commented a local resident. "We should ban the sale in New York, similarly to bamboo." The tree he was referring to was the same one I saw on the Palisades Parkway: Paulownia tomentosa, AKA the Princess (or Empress) Tree.

Side-by-side photos of a princess tree
The princess tree is beautiful and cleans the air better than nearly any pant... so why is it such a problem in New York (MATTHIASRABBIONE/fotolinchen via Canva)

Benefits of the Princess Tree in New York State

On the surface, the princess tree looks like a great addition to the local environment. The flowers are beautiful, the trees are strong (unlike the snap-happy Bradford pear tree which is also causing issues in New York), and princess trees are also one of the most efficient trees in the world at filtering carbon dioxide out of the air. So what's the issue?

Read More: Why You Need to Know About 100-Foot 'Melon Trees' in New York

The Dark Side of the Princess Tree in New York

Nicknamed a "wolf in sheep's clothing", New Yorkers have been calling out the dark side of the princess tree. The tree is not native to the United States, and not only do their widespread seeds germinate easily, but they can grow up to ten feet in a single year. The fast-spreading/quick-growing combination is enough to spell disaster for native trees competing for soil and sunlight.

Origins of the Princess Tree in New York State

Originating in Asia, the princess tree is now found in both Europe and North America. While neighboring states have taken stronger stances against the species (they are banned in Connecticut), New York has yet to make such a drastic move. Until then, botanists are working hard to create a hybrid version of the tree that keeps its positive qualities without maintaining its downsides.

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Even though the princess tree is still tolerated in New York, there is still a long list of banned invasive species in the state. Take a look at the plants to avoid below, and keep scrolling to see which plants are the most helpful to grow.

New York State's Invasive Plants To Be On The Lookout For

These seven invasive plants have become a nuisance to the wildlife and people living in New York State. Learn more about them and how to remove them at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation here.

Plant Some Of These In Your New York Garden to Keep Mosquitoes Away

New York State is home to about 70 species of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes occasionally they can transmit disease. According to New York State Of Health, some mosquito species have the potential to transmit disease-causing viruses, should those viruses be present in New York.

How do you keep these dangerous creepy crawlies away from you and your yard? Well, you could spend a small fortune on citronella candles all summer long. Or you can plant some of these 11 plant varieties around your garden or yard:

Gallery Credit: Dave Wheeler