Northern catalpa, Catalpa tree, Cigar tree, Indian bean
Bignoniaceae (Trumpet-Creeper Family)
Northern catalpa is a 75-100 ft., deciduous tree
with a narrow, oval
crown. The rugged winter outline is striking. Grayish- to reddish-brown bark
breaks into thick scales. Leaves heart shaped with a drawn out tip and usually smooth, sometimes shallowly lobed, margins, petioles up to 8 inches long and blades to 12 inches long by 8 inches wide. Large, showy, white to lavender, bell-shaped flowers with frilled rims occur in heavy, upright clusters at the outer ends of the branches. Flowers up to 2 inches long by 2 inches wide, petals white with yellow streaks and purplish spots inside, fused about half their length and flaring into 2 unequal lips, the smaller 2 lobed, the larger 3 lobed; in open clusters. Fruit
a long, narrow pod
up to 18 inches in length by 1/2 inch in width persisting through winter. Fall color is poor; leaves often fall before turning.
Northern Catalpa is the northernmost New World example of its tropical family and is hardier than Southern Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides
), which blooms later and has slightly smaller flowers and narrower, thinner-walled capsules. Both are called Cigartree and Indian-bean because of the distinctive fruit.
Image Gallery: 7 photo(s) available
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf:
Dark Green Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
, DC Native Distribution:
from w. TN
& n.e. AR,
to s.w. IN
& e. MO; now widely naturalized in s.e. U.S. Native Habitat:
Moist, lowland woods; roadsides; waste places; uplands
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Deep, rich, moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Rapid growing and relatively short-lived, northern catalpa is adaptable to many different soils and sites, but is not particularly drought-tolerant. Catalpas are major litter producers, shedding flowers, small branches, large leaves and seedpods. Brittle branches break easily in wind storms. It is susceptible to defoliation by leaf blight and the sphinx moth caterpillar.
BenefitConspicuous Flowers: yes