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Loughmiller, Campbell and Lynn
Catalpa bignonioides Walt.
Southern catalpa, Cigar tree, Indian bean
USDA Symbol: CABI8
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
The catalpa tree reaches 25-40 ft. in height with an equal or greater spread. Short, crooked branches form a broad, irregular crown. Its heart-shaped leaves have prominent veins and are 6–12 inches long and half as wide. The petiole is almost as long as the leaf. Deciduous leaves are large, light-green and smooth. The flowers are in clusters of 10–20, each blossom on a short stem. They are white, 2-lipped, united at the base, opening into 5 ruffled, petal-like lobes; each flower is about 2 inches across. In the throat there are 2 large yellow spots and several smaller ones, several small purple stripes, and a number of tiny purple spots. Fruit a cigarlike pod.
The name Catalpa is a Muskogean name for the tree, while the specific name refers to a related vine with flowers of similar shape: Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata). Planted as a shade tree and an ornamental for the abundant showy flowers, cigar-like pods, and coarse foliage.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf:
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun
AL , AR , AZ , CA , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MO , MS , NC , ND , NJ , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WV Native Distribution:
Gulf Coast from n. FL to e. MS; widely naturalized elsewhere Native Habitat:
Stream banks; wetlands; low woodlands USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(I)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Low Light Requirement:
Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Wet CaCO3 Tolerance:
Medium Soil Description:
Wet to moist soils. Conditions Comments:
Some landowners and designers consider this nearly indestructible tree
a nuisance because the leaves smell bad when crushed, flowers litter the ground with decaying petals after a too-brief appearance, and root suckers can create a problem. A particular green & black striped caterpillar can completely defoliate southern catalpa trees, but the trees recover, growing new set of leaves withing a month.
is cultivated as an ornamental but has long since escaped cultivation. Conspicuous Flowers:
Seeds require no stratification or scarification. Both hardwood and softwood stem
cuttings can be used for propagation. Seed Collection:
Capsules split and disperse seed in late winter or early spring. Collect fruits after capsules brown and begin to dry. Insect infestation is likely if left on the tree
too long. Dry, cold storage is recommended. Seed Treatment:
Not Available Commercially Avail:
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Campbell Family Nursery
- Harmony, NC
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Nueces River Authority
- Uvalde, TX
Recommended Species Lists
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Record Modified: 2010-09-24
Research By: TWC Staff