Catalpa speciosa - Northern Catalpa


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.