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Catalpa bignonioides is often confused with:
Chilopsis linearis Chilopsis linearis
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Aesculus flava Tree in full bloom
Halesia carolina Full Form
Ulmus americana Full Form

Southern Catalpa Catalpa bignonioides

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
kah-TAL-pah big-non-ee-OY-deez
Description

The medium sized, flowering deciduous tree Catalpa bignonioides is a relatively easily grown shade tree that prefers moderate soils but is tolerant of both wet and dry conditions. It prefers being grown in full sun to part shade and has an irregular shape once grown.

This tree has an irregular shape and blooms with white flowers that are about an inch and a half in width in early summer. It is a very long-lived tree and after this initial flowering seed pods are produced which droop from the branches in a unique, string-like display.

This plant does not have many problems with diseases however it may be susceptible to verticillium wilt, leaf spots, mildew, and anthracnose blight. Additionally, caterpillars of the catalpa sphinx moth feed on and cause damage to its foliage.

Some negative aspects of this tree are that the irregular shape may not fit with the landscape, seemingly having randomly spreading and crooked branches which can be off-putting. In addition, the foliage is unpleasantly fragrant when damaged.

Note that this tree also flowers later than C. speciosa and retains more of a purple color.

Form: Short, thick trunk; broadly rounded with an irregular crown

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.  Catalpa sphinx moth caterpillars can do significant damage.  Mildew, twig blight, verticillium wilt, and leaf spots are occasional problems.  Leaves can become damaged and look ratty from wind or hail.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aurea'
  • 'Nana'
  • 'Variegata'
  • var. purpurea
'Aurea', 'Nana', 'Variegata', var. purpurea
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#shade tree#native tree#deciduous tree#malodorus
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aurea'
  • 'Nana'
  • 'Variegata'
  • var. purpurea
'Aurea', 'Nana', 'Variegata', var. purpurea
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#shade tree#native tree#deciduous tree#malodorus
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Catalpa
    Species:
    bignonioides
    Family:
    Bignoniaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    E. Texas to S. Georgia
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    flowers later than C. speciosa and has more purple color, 6-12 in. panicle of white, bell-shaped flowers with two rows and ridges of yellow spots and numerous purple spots in early summer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Whorled
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Large, heartshaped slightly pubecent, 4-8 in. whorled or opposite, simple leaf; has an unpleasant odor when crushed; no significant fall color.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    crooked branches
  • Landscape:
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree