Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

SOUTHERN CATALPA
Catalpa bignonioides
Bignoniaceae

Leaves are simple, opposite or whorled (3/node), deciduous, hairy underneath, and heart-shaped with a long petiole. Caterpillars may be found on leaves. Twigs are stout and gray-brown with "moon crater" leaf scars. Bark is gray-brown and scaly. Flowers are white with maroon and orange blotches and very showy. Fruit is a long, brown capsule 6-18 inches long that resembles a bean or cigar. Form is up to 15 m (50 ft) in height with a low open crown. Southern catalpa is found on moist, well-drained soils in the southeastern U.S. and is intolerant of shade. The wood is soft and used for fence posts. Catawba worms feed on the leaves. The flowers and leaves make this an interesting landscape tree but the fruit is messy.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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