Tree of the Month: Northern Catalpa


First in a new monthly series

This month's tree is one of the loveliest trees -- it's the Northern Catalpa (sometimes known as the Catawba) tree (genus: Catalpa speciosa).

It was the first tree I ever was able to identify, because it was right outside the door of my childhood home in upstate New York.

This beautiful tree has large spreading, heart-shaped leaves that range from 6-12" in diameter. The leaves remind you of the ears on an elephant.

The trunk of the tree can be distinctive, with twists and turns and that differentiate it from the trunks of many other trees.

In May and June, it has fragrant, trumpet-shaped white flowers that rain down on the lawn. Its long seed pods, also referred to as "fruit" in arboriculture, make the tree stand out among most others in the neighborhood. Bees and hummingbirds are drawn to the Catalpa.

A Catalpa tree can grow from 40-60' in height and have branches that spread from 20-40', so it's a large tree. It grows medium-fast to fast and is a wonderful shade tree.

Sources: Wikipedia; Arbor Day Foundation,


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