southern catalpa
Catalpa bignonioides
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAMES: fish bait tree, Indian cigar tree
  • LEAVES: simple, opposite or whorls of 3’s, deciduous; cordate, 6-10” long
  • FLOWER: large clusters (panicles) of white flowers with purple throats, corollas tubular; after leaves are out
  • FRUIT: elongate (long and thin) capsules 6-18” long; seeds with two wings with erose margins; wind borne
  • TWIGS: stout, brittle; large, round-to-oblong depressed leaf scars; lenticels
  • BARK: gray, furrowed, generally tight
  • FORM: medium-sized tree, 60-70’ x 3-4’ dbh; crown often forked; main branches brash and often break in storms
  • HABITAT: moist well-drained, along streams; homesites
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Obligate Upland (UPL): Almost never occurs in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: southeast US
  • USES: very durable heartwood, used for fence posts, boats; common ornamental; catalpa worms harvested for fish bait
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. large heart-shaped leaves, opposite or whorled
    2. long, narrow seed capsules

    NOTES: northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) very similar and also planted in the south, has a more northern range and thicker capsule walls