Catalpa bignonioides

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Catalpa bignonioides Walter


Life form: tree
Usage: economic plant / Usage: ornamental plant

Exposure: sun   5

Moisture: moderately moist bis Moisture: moist

Soil: sandy loam

Arrangement: opposite
Leaves: decidious

Shape: ovate

Division: simple


Shape: campanulate
Fruit: loculicidal capsule

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Inflorescence: panicle

Petals: not specified
Habit: not specified

Canopy: rounded to broadly spreading



Catalpa bignonioides is a tree.


Catalpa bignonioides was described by Thomas Walter in 1788. The name is considered as validly published.


Catalpa bignonioides is a species in the genus Catalpa which contains approximately 11 to 18 species and belongs to the family of the Bignoniaceae (Trumpet-creeper Family). The type species of the genus is Bignonia catalpa.


Catalpa bignonioides - habitus
Catalpa bignonioides - leaves
Catalpa bignonioides - flowers
Catalpa bignonioides - branches
Catalpa bignonioides - fruits
Catalpa bignonioides - stems


The trees are comparatively fast-growing and long-lived. They reach heights of 12 to 15 metres and have a rounded to broadly spreading canopy The main growing season is in spring. The plants reach a width of 6 to 10 metres.

Wood and Bark

The bark is thick or longitudinally fissured and silver-grey.


Catalpa bignonioides is deciduous. The dark-green, simple leaves are opposite. They are ovate, entire and petiolate. The foliage is dense in summer and porous in winter and turns an attractive yellow in autumn.

Flowers and Fruits

Catalpa bignonioides produces panicles of showy, white campanulate flowers from April to July. The plants flower on last years shoots. They are hermaphroditic, pollination takes places by allogamy through animals.

In summer the trees produce ornamental green loculicidal capsules that are persistent on the plant.

Root System

The plants form shallow roots.


Catalpa bignonioides is native to the Southeast of the US and Florida.


The trees prefer a sunny situation on fresh to moist soil. They prefer sandy loam with a pH between 5,5 and 7,5. The plants need a soil depth of at least 91 centimetres for good growth. They tolerate temperatures down to -29°C (USDA zone 5) and need a frost-free period of at least 20 weeks.

Tolerance of special soil conditions

  • none: soil salinity, anaerobic soil
  • medium: drought, calcareous soil
  • high: city climate


The ornamental value of Catalpa bignonioides lies especially in the ornamental leaves. The recommended planting distance is 2,5 metres. Suited as avenue tree, specimen plant, greenery along roads, bee pasture, bird pasture and as plant providing shelter for birds. From a commercial point of view the trees can be used to produce posts. The plants have moderate potential for fuelwood production.

Maintenance and Propagation

The plants usually require only a moderate amount of maintenance.

Propagate by sowing.


Pests and Diseases


  • Walter Erhardt, Erich Götz, Nils Bödeker, Siegmund Seybold: Der große Zander. Eugen Ulmer KG, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7. (Ger.)
  • Christoper Brickell (Editor-in-chief): RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Third edition. Dorling Kindersley, London 2003, ISBN 0-7513-3738-2.

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