Catalpa is a Midwest native tree grows 40 to 60 feet tall, with a narrow, open, irregularly rounded crown and spreading branches. It has large, heart-shaped leaves and large clusters of fragrant, white flowers. The long, interesting seed pods persist through the winter. Northern catalpa is very adaptable to adverse conditions, but has weak wood and branch structure.
All Common Names:
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median,
- Restricted sites
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- North America
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Alkaline soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Moderately Tolerant
- Messy fruit/plant parts,
- Weak wood and branch structure
- Spring blossoms,
- Fragrant flowers,
- Persistent fruit/seeds,
- Showy flowers,
- Attractive bark
Season of Interest:
- Late spring,
- Early summer
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Insect pollinators
photo: John Hagstrom
Size & Form
A large, upright to rounded tree reaching 50 feet high and 35 feet wide.
Tree & Plant Care
Best in full sun in well-drained soil.
Tolerant of temporary wet conditions but should not stand in water.
It is very adaptable to adverse conditions but is pollution sensitive.
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 like leaf spots and powdery mildew.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native from the lower Midwest into the southern states (southern Illinois south to Arkansas).
Bark color and texture
Bark is gray-brown, scaly with age.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple leaves are 6 to 10 inches long and heart-shaped, whorled or opposite along branches. Fall color is yellow-green to brown.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Upright, 4 to 8 inch clusters (panicles) of white, bell-shaped flowers with orange stripes and purple spots and stripes.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Pod-like capsules, 8 to 20 inches long, filled with winged seeds.
Cultivars and their differences
Heartland Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa 'Hiawatha 2'): 50 feet high and 25 feet wide, upright, narrow oval