En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Pecan with brown spots on the leaves
June 11, 2010 - Southern pecan, I am a 8 foot tall and 3 year old (young)tree. My leafs have brown spots on top and hard shell mound on the bottom, this is on about 3/4 of the of the leafs, could you tell me what th...
view the full question and answer

How fast do trees grow?
September 03, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants I would like to know how to tell how much a tree will grow if the average of the trees are growing at the rate of approximately 3 to 3.5% annually. And how do they come up wi...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a school garden in College Station TX
July 20, 2011 - I need to plant some things in my school garden. Green plants and plants with some color. Hardly ever rains here. Please give suggestions.
view the full question and answer

When is the best time to trim oak trees in Driftwood TX?
September 09, 2010 - When is the best time to trim oak trees?
view the full question and answer

Brown spots on live oak leaves in Cedar Park, TX.
July 22, 2009 - I have a live oak that was planted 4 years ago. It had several brown spots last summer, but recovered over the winter. Now it has lots of brown leaves and looks very sad. What is the best way to he...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center