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Catalpa speciosa

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
kah-TAL-pah speh-see-OH-sah
Description

Catalpa speciosa, otherwise known as Northern Catalpa is a medium to large sized deciduous tree with showy white flowers that have bright yellow stamen and purple patters on the inside of the flower. They flower in late spring to early summer. The foliage is noted to be very large and it produces long, showy, green seed pods that have a bean-like capsule. The leaves are very broad with a length of up to a foot with an ovate shape. These leaves turn a bright yellow in the fall which eventually will turn black. This tree has a rounded crown with spreading branches, coarse leaves, and brittle wood.

These trees are native to the North American south around Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri as well as southern Indiana and Illinois. They prefer full sun or part shade and are tolerant of most soil conditions though it prefers a moist loam with plenty of organic material.  They do well in difficult to grow locations of the landscape like moist low spots or dry spots with poor soils.

The name Catalpa is derived from the Muscogee Native American tribe's name for the tree "kutuhlpa" and the species name speciosa is a specific epithet meaning 'showy'. This plant is the northernmost example of its tropical family, Bignoniaceae, in the Americas. This plant is hardier than the Southern Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), which blooms later, has smaller flowers, and has thinner-walled capsules. Both are referred to as Cigartree and Indian-bean because of their distinctive fruits.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Similarly to others of the Catalpa genus, this species does not have a serious problem with diseases or insects, however, it could be susceptible to verticillium wilt, leaf spot, mildew, and twig blight. The larvae of the catalpa sphinx moth also feed on the foliage, which can result in considerable damage

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#shade tree#full sun#partial shade#rain garden#drought tolerant#white flowers#wildlife plant#native tree#tree#large leaves#playground#wet sites#flooding#NC native#children's garden#native garden#seed pods#wind dispersed seeds#Braham Arboretum#poor soils tolerant#winged seeds#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#shade tree#full sun#partial shade#rain garden#drought tolerant#white flowers#wildlife plant#native tree#tree#large leaves#playground#wet sites#flooding#NC native#children's garden#native garden#seed pods#wind dispersed seeds#Braham Arboretum#poor soils tolerant#winged seeds#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Catalpa
    Species:
    speciosa
    Family:
    Bignoniaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & E. U.S.A. to Utah
    Distribution:
    range from ME west to ND to UT south to TX east to GA
    Play Value:
    Pieces Used in Games
    Shade
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Dimensions:
    Height: 40 ft. 0 in. - 70 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 8 in. - 4 ft. 2 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Irregular
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    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 Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Bean like fruit up to 22" long dark brown when mature in the fall. They split lengthwise to release wind-dispersed seeds. Resemble cigars hence the common name.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Orange
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Flower Petals:
    fused petals
    Flower Description:
    Upright panicle of white, bell-shaped flowers with orange stripes and purple spots and stripes.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Insignificant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Description:
    Light green 6"-12" whorled or opposite simple pinnately veined entire margined yellow-green to brown soft pubescence underside leaf. Pointed at tips cordate at the base. Insignificant yellow fall color. They do not have an unpleasant fragrance when crushed like C. bignoniodies.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    Pale grey to reddish brown irregular shallow fissures and scaly ridged bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Dry Soil
    Poor Soil
    Wet Soil