Trees are an excellent addition to any landscape. They provide numerous practical benefits and look great too, especially the ones that produce beautiful flowers. Purple flowers can be especially attractive, but what kinds of trees have those?
If you are looking for trees with purple flowers, some good choices are Texas Mountain Laurel, Purple Robe Locust, Chaste Tree, Crepe Myrtles, Royal Empress Tree, or the Eastern Redbud.
In this article, I’ll be taking a closer look at each of these purple flowering trees and discussing their different characteristics and unique features.
1. Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora Secundiflora)
Native to Southwestern US and Mexico, this tree is evergreen and ranges from 3–30 feet (0.9–9.1 m) tall, though it’s typically 10–15 feet (3–4.6 m)
The tree has attractive, glossy dark green foliage and highly fragrant purple lavender flowers blooming in March and April. Its fragrance is often said to resemble that of grape kool-aid or soda. Note that the leaves and flowers are poisonous for human consumption. However, they’re nectar-rich, attracting butterflies and bees.
Its seeds are also bright red and poisonous, containing a substance related to nicotine and considered a narcotic or hallucinogen. The seed shells are beautiful and were prized by Native Americans as decorations on clothing and for ceremonial uses.
2. Purple Robe Locust (Robinia Pseudoacacia ‘Purple Robe’)
This tree typically grows 40–50 feet (12.2–15.2 m) tall with a 30-foot (9.1 m) horizontal spread. It produces attractive violet-purple flowers in mid to late spring.
Though the flowers are beautiful, some also have bristles and thorns to be wary of. Its leaves are typically bronze-green, turning bronze-red in the spring, blue-green in summer, and yellow in the fall.
The purple flowers often attract bees and butterflies. They last for ten days, followed by purple-brown seed pods, which last throughout the winter.
3. Purple Lily Magnolia (Magnolia Liliiflora)
This tree is native to Asia and sports large clusters of pink-purple flowers. The flowers are occasionally followed by purple or brown follicles and dark green leaves.
Its blossoms appear in April and early May, and are highly fragrant.
This tree is on the smaller side, reaching up to 12 feet (3.6 m) in height and width. Being a slow grower, it may take up to 15 years to reach full maturity.
4. Chaste Tree (Vitex Agnus-Castus)
Also called Vitex, chaste berry, monks pepper, or Texas lilac, the chaste tree is typically grown as a 10–15 foot (3–4.6 m) shrub but can reach up to 20 feet (6.1 m) as a tree.
It displays large clusters of lilac-colored flowers amid gray-green aromatic foliage. Its blooms attract butterflies and appear in summer as long spikes of pink, purple, and white flowers.
It comes from the Mediterranean and Western Asia. The tree can now be found in Southeastern parts of North America. It prefers warm climates.
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus Syriacus)
This tree grows 10–12 feet (3–3.6 m) tall and 5–7 feet (1.5–2.1 m) wide. It’s native to China, India, and East Asia.
It has a long flowering period from early spring through fall, and its blooms come in a range of colors from white to pink to red, blue, purple, and lavender. The flowers are showy, with yellowish stamens in the middle of their petals.
The flower ‘Rose of Sharon’ is the national flower of South Korea and is mentioned in the South Korean national anthem.
6. Jacaranda Tree (Jacaranda Mimosifolia)
Jacaranda trees are native to South America and do best in warm climates. They can grow up to 40 feet (12.2 m) tall and are naturally broad and spreading with multiple trunks.
The flowers of the Jacaranda tree are a beautiful lavender color, which bloom as long, pyramid-shaped clusters in the spring and early summer. Though in warmer climates the tree can flower at any time.
One of the tree’s many attractive characteristics is that as its blossoms age, they drop from their clusters and to the ground, creating a lavender carpet upon the ground around the tree.
7. Purple Orchid Tree (Bauhinia Purpurea)
This tree can reach up to 35 feet (10.7 m) in both height and width. It’s native to the Indian subcontinent and Myanmar and cultivated in many tropical and subtropical areas.
The Purple Orchid tree produces beautiful purple, pink, and lavender orchid-like flowers in the fall before the leaves drop, from September through November.
Flat, brown 12-inch (304.8 mm) long seed pods follow the flowers and last through the winter. Broad, heart-shaped green leaves adorn the tree most of the year.
8. Crepe Myrtle Tree (Lagerstroemia)
The crepe Myrtle is native to southeast Asia and northern parts of Australia and Oceania. It does best in warmer climates.
While these trees can range in height from over 100 feet (30.5 m) to under 1 foot (0.3 m), most are small to medium-sized shrubs or trees typically reaching 15–25 feet (4.6–7.6 m) tall.
Their blooms range in color from purple to pink, red, and white. And their flower blooms have crinkled petals like crepe paper, which is where it derives its name.
It’s deciduous and evergreen, and its flowers are long-lasting, blooming and covering the tree throughout the summer and into the fall.
9. Fragrant Lilac Tree (Syringa Vulgaris)
This tree is a species in the olive family Oleaceae and a native to Southern Europe. Its height ranges from 3–15 feet (0.9–4.6 m).
Its leaves are dark green and blue-green on top and a pale green below. Long clusters of lilac, purple and lavender four-petaled flowers bloom in April and May.
The blooms are highly fragrant, which is where the tree derives its name. It blooms in late spring for 3–4 weeks, making it the longest blooming species within its genus.
10. Desert Willow (Chilopsis Linearis)
Named for its resemblance to willows, this tree is ornamental and popular for its exotic-looking blooms. It’s native to the southwestern US and Mexico.
This tree often grows 15–40 feet (4.6–12.2 m) with a leaning, twisting trunk. Its leaves are light green and willow-like. The funnel-shaped blossoms are purple and dark pink with white, yellow, or purple streaks in the center.
Desert Willow flowers bloom in late summer and last until early autumn when slender seed pods replace them.
11. Korean Lilac Tree (Syringa Meyeri ‘Palibin’)
This tree, also known as Meyer lilac, was discovered in 1909 by Frank Meyer, growing in a garden near Beijing, China. A dense shrub, it grows around 4–5 feet (1.2–1.5 m) tall and 5–7 feet (1.5–2.1 m) wide.
It produces panicles of lilac-pink flowers in late spring to early summer, which cover it all over and come with a sweet fragrance. Its leaves are dark green year-round.
The Korean Lilac is also easy to grow and care for. It’s adaptable and makes a beautiful addition to a variety of different landscapes.
12. Royal Empress Tree (Paulownia Tomentosa)
Also commonly called ‘princess tree,’ this tree is named after Russian Princess Anna Paulowna (1795–1865). It’s native to Eastern Asia and considered one of the fastest-growing trees in the world, growing 15 feet (4.6 m) each year and reaching up to 82 feet (25 m) with a 30-foot (9.2 m) width.
Its flowers are purple-pink, fox glove-like, and smell like vanilla. They’re followed by brown seed pods, which break open in the fall to reveal winged seeds which disperse by wind or water.
Unfortunately, this tree is considered an invasive species and not recommended for landscape planting.
13. Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)
Eastern redbud is native to eastern North America, where it gets its name from, along with its beautiful, reddish-purple flower buds.
Its leaves are reddish-purple, changing to dark green in summer and yellow in the fall. Its flowers are rosy pink purple and bloom in April. It grows 20–30 feet (6.1–9.1 m) high and 30 feet (9.1 m) wide.
The flowers bloom in clusters along the tree’s branches in the spring and stay for 2–3 weeks. They appear to be growing right from the bark in clusters of small, radiant flowers covering the entire tree.
14. Royal Purple Smoke Tree (Cotinus Coggygria)
This tree doesn’t get its name’ smoke tree’ from the tiny flowers that grow on branching panicles in the spring. But because of its billowy hairs attached to elongated stalks, which turn pink or purple, creating smoky, hazy puffs upon the tree all summer.
This tree is native to Southern Europe and central China. It grows between 10–15 feet (3–4.6 m) in height and width.
It’s the foliage that distinguishes royal purple from other smoke trees. In spring, the leaves are rich red maroon, turning dark purplish-red in fall, and eventually purplish-black in summer.
The flowers are pictured in pink above, but I’m also including a picture of the leaves from the royal purple variant.
15. Purple Wisteria Tree (Wisteria Sinensis)
This tree reaches 10–15 feet (3–4.6 m) in height and width. Wisteria is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, including ten species of vines that can also grow as self-supporting trees. It’s native to Asia, Southern Canada, the eastern US, and northern Iran.
Its blooms last from spring into early summer and come in a stunning range of colors, including
purple and lavender. They cascade down from the tree in long, fragrant racemes from soft green heads of foliage. The tree’s heavy blooms attract butterflies and beneficial insects.
In Japan, the Wisteria is a plant that has accrued much symbolism. It often represents long life and immortality for its high longevity. There’s even a 150-year-old Wisteria tree in Japan; you can check it out here.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Robinia ‘Purple Robe’ – Plant Finder
- Britannica: follicle | plant reproductive body
- The Spruce: Lily Magnolia: Plant Care & Growing Guide
- MOIS: National Administration> National Symbols of the Republic of Korea> The National Flower – Mugunghwa
- Gardenia: Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac)
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’ – Plant Finder
- Spade Foot Nursery: That Grape Kool Aid Plant — Spadefoot Nursery
- Wildflower: Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) | Native Plants of North America
- DCMGA: Texas Mountain Laurel
- Bernheim: Cercis-tree Eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ – Plant Finder
- Petal Republic: Ultimate Guide to Wisteria Flower Meaning & Symbolism
- My Modern Met: This 150-Year-Old Wisteria Tree Is the Most Beautiful One in the World