Catalpa speciosa (Northern Catalpa)
|Also known as:||Cigar Tree|
|Family:||Bignoniaceae (Trumpet Creeper)|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||sun; disturbed soil; forest edges, ravines, floodplains, roadsides, fencerows, residential landscapes|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||30 to 80 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Branching clusters at the tips of 1-year-old branches. Flowers are very showy, tubular, about 2½ inches long, to 1+ inch wide, white with 5 ruffled lobes that have purple spots and streaks into the tube. The upper 2 lobes are shortest and turn up, the lower 3 extend out and down and have a pair of orange-yellow lines near the base and into the tube. Inside the tube are 2 fertile stamens, 3 shorter sterile stamens, and a white style.
Leaves and bark:
Leaves are simple and opposite, sometimes whorled or appearing so, the blade 6 to 12 inches long, 5 to 8 inches wide, tapered to a pointed tip, the base straight across to slightly rounded to heart-shaped, on a stalk up to 5 inches long. Edges are toothless, the upper surface dark green and hairless, lower surface lighter green and hairy especially along major veins. Leaf stalks are sparsely hairy.
Twigs are initially green turning reddish-brown, and hairless with scattered white lenticils (pores). The terminal bud is absent and lateral buds are covered in reddish-brown scales. Leaf scars are large and oval to nearly round.
Northern Catalpa is native to a limited region to our south and east but has been cultivated as a landscape tree outside of its natural range. It occasionally escapes cultivation. It volunteered in our own yard from elsewhere in the neighborhood and we transplanted it to a sunnier spot our front yard. It should be recognizable almost any time of year. Look for the persistent fruits, twigs lacking a terminal bud and the nearly round leaf scar in winter, the large, showy flowers in spring and the large, egg to heart-shaped leaves through fall.
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- Flowering Northern Catalpa
- Fruiting Northern Catalpa
- Northern Catalpa in a residential landscape
- fall color
- more leaves
- fruit persists through winter
Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?