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Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

Northern Catalpa Tree Northern Catalpa Flowers Northern Catalpa Beans


Two large Northern Catalpa trees (also known as Indian Bean Tree or Cigar Tree) can be seen along Arboretum Drive near the Juniper Collection. The genus name Catalpa purportedly comes from a Cherokee Indian word for "bean tree" - the dark brown seed pods that become conspicuous in mid- to late summer have a long (8-20 in.), bean-like shape. The showy white, bell-shaped flowers highlighted with yellow and purple markings in the center appear in late May. Northern Catalpa grows to heights of 40-70 ft. Its large (6-12 in. long), heart-shaped leaves are rounded to cordate at the base and pointed at the tip.

Catalpa belongs to the Bignoniacea family, which also includes Cross Vine and Trumpet Creeper. The natural range for Northern Catalpa includes western Tennessee and other parts of the Central Mississippi Valley. It has been widely planted in urban areas as an ornamental and shade tree. The brittle wood resists rot and in the past has been used for railroad ties, fence posts, etc.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu