Northern Catalpa is a broad crowned native tree that adds distinctive character to any property. This tree is covered with large clusters of large tubular flowers for several weeks each summer. Large heart shaped leaves give the Catalpa a unique look through the season. This native tree is hardy in zones 4 to 8. Read More
The Catalpa Tree consists of many species, two are native to the US. In the mid-west we have the Northern Catalpa, Catalpa speciosa, and in the south we have The Southern Catalpa, Catalpa bignoides.
Both Catalpas are known by various local names such as, Catawba, Indian Cigar Tree, Cigar Tree, Caterpillar Tree, Fishbait Tree, and Fishermans Tree. Catalpa is the Native American name for the trees.
The two trees are very similar in appearance. The flowers are the distinguishing difference. Both trees produce large clusters of flowers in early summer. The interior of the flowers tell the tale. The Northern Catalpa flowers are decorated with lines of lavender dots surrounding bright yellow streaks leading into the throat of the flower.
Both catalpas are large trees, 30′ to 70’tall with some reaching 100′ . The trees are rather coarse in structure with thick twigs and a distinctive, sometimes contorted shape. The large frame is clothed with equally large leaves, some a foot long and broad. The large leaves cast a deep shade.
As summer progresses, the flowers give way to long bean like pods which turn from green to a rich dark brown in fall somewhat resembling a long cigar.
The most significant pest of the catalpa is considered by some to be its greatest asset. The caterpillar of the catalpa Sphinx moth, Ceratoia catalpae.
This caterpillar can in sufficient numbers defoliate the tree. Catalpa trees quickly replace their leaves with little distress.