En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - May 23, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Caterpillars on catalpa trees and hardiness of catalpas
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

A volunteer catalpa tree has recently popped up near the edge of our swimming pool. The foliage is lovely, so I'm considering allowing it to stay. This one has already proven to be a fast grower . . . but how do they do long term. Do they really get covered in worms all summer?

ANSWER:

There are two species of Catalpa in North America, Catalpa speciosa (northern catalpa) and Catalpa bignonioides (southern catalpa). Northern catalpa is a 75-100 ft., deciduous tree with a narrow, oval crown. Southern catalpa reaches 25-40 ft. in height with an equal or greater spread. Both species are fast growing and relatively short-lived. Either species may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats. Larva of the catalpa sphinx caterpillar (Ceratomia catalpae) eat the leaves and complete defoliation may occur in some years.

The biggest management problem with catalpa used as an ornamental is litter. They will drop a heavy load of flowers in the spring, then leaves in the fall and finally a lot of large seedpods in the winter. In other words, you will be spending a lot of time cleaning your pool.

For all these reasons, many people (Mr. Smarty Plants included) consider this nearly indestructible tree to be a bit of a nuisance despite its large showy flowers and tropical foliage.

Read this USDA Plant Fact Sheet to learn more about Catalpa.


Catalpa bignonioides

Catalpa speciosa

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Controlling native chickasaw plum
July 23, 2008 - How do we kill the chickasaw plum? We have an abundance and want to get rid of them.
view the full question and answer

Planting fruit and nut trees in Archer, FL.
January 26, 2012 - We're looking to plant a few fruit and nut trees in Archer, Florida. We've been thinking about figs, apples, peaches, oranges, plums, and whatever nuts grow best here (looks like almonds and pecan...
view the full question and answer

Problems with a two year old persimmon tree in Fredricksburg, TX.
May 22, 2013 - Hi Mr/Ms Smarty Plants, We planted a 4-ft Texas Persimmon, Diospyros texana, 2-years ago, with wonderful leaf and fruit production since. We recently had a hail storm (5/9/13) and although mos...
view the full question and answer

Trees resistant to Armillaria mellea, root fungus
December 16, 2008 - We had to bring down a 200 year old oak which root system was compromised by Armillaria mellea. We were told the fungus is still present in the soil & it's advisable to plant a resistant species. W...
view the full question and answer

Need for sunlight for Sophora secundiflora to bloom
June 22, 2007 - My mountain laurel doesn't bloom. We live in Oak Hill and planted it about seven years ago. It bloomed one year at about age three or four. Since then nothing. What can I do? It only gets indire...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center