TREES & plants

Southern catalpa

Southern catalpa is a short-trunked tree with a rounded to irregular form that can reach 30 to 40 feet in height. Attractive, large panicles of white bell-shaped flowers with yellow and purple spots bloom in early summer and are long-lasting. Native to floodplains, southern catalpa is very adaptable and tolerant of adverse conditions.

Botanical name: 
Catalpa bignonioides
All Common Names: 
Southern Catalpa, Common Catalpa, Eastern Catalpa, Cigar Tree
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • North America
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Shade
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Alkaline soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring
  • Late spring
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Irregular
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
More Information: 

Size and Form

30 to 50 feet high and wide; irregular form

Tree & Plant Care

This tree can be messy when flowers and fruits fall; branches are brittle and may fall in storms.

Disease, pests and problems

Verticillium wilt and minor problems including leaf spots and powdery mildew.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity

Native geographic location and habitat

Found in the southern United States.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is gray-brown, scaly with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite or sometimes whorled leaves; 4 to 8 inches long with an entire margin
Bright green in summer with little to no fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

White, funnel-shaped flowers with purple markings inside; grouped in a 4 to 8 inch tall upright cluster.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Pod-like capsules, 8 to 20 inches long, filled with winged seeds.