Catalpa speciosa - Northern Catalpa
Family: Bignoniaceae

Hear the scientific name

Catalpa speciosa is a large tree with winter persistent, elongated, thin pods, white inflorescences in mid-June, large, ovate medium green leaves and bold character.

Alternate common name: Western Catalpa

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form2 form Form

-large, deciduous, flowering tree

-to 60' tall x 40' wide

-upright oval to irregular shape

-growth rate rapid at first (>18" per year) but slows down with age

-considered short-lived in its native habitat (50 years)


-opposite to whorled,simple leaves

-very large (10" long x 6" wide, including the long petiole)

-light to medium green

-very pubescent beneath

-autumn color yellowish green to yellow-brown; poor


-6" erect inflorescences (panicles) of several flowers in early- to mid-June

-white with a purple flare

-2" flowers are bell-shaped and attractive from a long distance

-flowering for about 1 week, then covering the ground with white petals


-1.5' long thin pods, slightly curving but generally straight

-persisting throughout the winter and into spring, finally splitting along their axis into 2 halves and abscising

-seeds fringed and dispersed by wind


-stout, with prominent lenticels and rounded leaf scars (scars have depressed centers)

-yellowish-brown to tan

-false terminal

trunk Trunk

-brown to gray, usually with deep furrows and tall ridges; sometimes scaly

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-full sun to partial shade

-very tolerant of soil type, but prefers deep, moist, fertile soil

-withstands wet or dry and alkaline conditions and extremely hot, dry environments (urban tolerant)

-rare availability; B&B form


-zones 4 to 8


-native to the Ohio Valley and mid-south of the U.S. (Illinois and Indiana to Western Tennessee and Northern Arkansas)

U   S   A   G   E


-coarse-textured large tree

-flowers prominently in mid-June; very noticeable display

-furrowed bark

-high urban tolerance

tolerates poor sites


-fruit pod litter in winter and spring

-small branches prone to storm damage (enhancing the bold character)


-large shade tree

-flowering tree in early to mid-June


-bold in foliage and when bare

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-trees that flower in late spring or early summer (Koelreuteria paniculata, Styphnolobium japonicum); large shade trees (Celtis occidentalis); year-round bold texture (Aesculus glabra, Aesculus flava, Gymnocladus dioica)


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