Royal Empress tree flowers
I read where they bloom in spring but it’s almost October and ours have what looks like blossom buds coming out.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
The Royal Empress blooms on old wood (previous year's growth), so you are seeing buds forming for next spring.
If yours didn't bloom last spring, it's possible someone pruned it in late winter, cutting off the spring buds.
Be sure not to do any pruning till after it blooms next spring.