The Chinese parasol tree is called wu tong (梧桐) and scientifically know as firmiana simplex or paulownia imperialis.
It is one of those tree plants that are held in the highest regard in Chinese culture, with many believing that it exceeds the pine tree in symbolism prestige.
The tree of excellence.
So much so that musical instruments such as the lute is often judged to be more valuable when it is made out of wu-tong tree timber.
In the old days, the flowers were also used as an ingredient to make preservatives meant to store timber for a long time.
These trees are also a source of oil, which can be harvested from the sap, where farmers can both consume and trade.
Legend of the parasol tree
The parasol tree is best known as the favored resting place of the phoenix.
It is said that a phoenix would only land on a parasol tree should it decide to take a break from flying.
Which is why every statue, figurine or painting of the phoenix that is not in flight, the celestial bird would be depicted standing or resting on some kind of plant or branch.
That is a Chinese parasol tree.
This is also a reason why villages like to plant parasol trees in ancient times. To invite the arrival of the Phoenix so as to bring auspicious luck to the people.
Because of it’s strong association with yin energy, depictions of the parasol tree are often accompanied by the bamboo plant which represents yang energy.
One cultural reason for the yin and yang associations for the parasol and bamboo is that the knots of the former are formed inwards while the latter are formed outwards.
In symbolism, the the parasol tree is depicted by other symbolic creatures or items, it serves to magnify what it represents.
For example, when pictured with a magpie, it means joy that is shared with others (同喜).
Parasol tree placement
These are great trees to have in the garden, provided your feng shui garden is big enough to house them comfortably.
The household would be welcoming the phoenix to bring good luck to residents.
However, do note the yin nature of the parasol tree. Having too much yin energy without enough yang to counter-balance can be inviting trouble.