Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Southern Catalpa

Also known as the Cigar tree or Indian bean, the Southern catalpa is botanically called the Catalpa bignonioides. It is from the trumpet-creeper family of plants and is native to the United States.

Southern Catalpa Description

Growing 25 to 40 feet tall and 25 to 40 feet wide at the crown, this tree has short and crooked branches. It has prominently veined heart-shaped leaves that are light green and deciduous. Flowers are clustered, 10 to 20 in a set. They are white and about two inches wide. There are cigar-looking pods for fruits. Bloom season is between May and June for this plant.

Growing Guide

The southern catalpa prefers to grow in partial shade lighting and wet or moist soils. Propagate by seed, softwood stem cuttings, hardwood stem cuttings. Seeds do not need pretreatment.


This tree is found throughout the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia. It is typically found in low woodland areas and in stream banks.


Kingdom         Plantae– Plants

Subkingdom    Tracheobionta– Vascular plants

Superdivision  Spermatophyta– Seed plants

Division           Magnoliophyta– Flowering plants

Class    Magnoliopsida– Dicotyledons

Subclass          Asteridae

Order   Scrophulariales

Family Bignoniaceae– Trumpet-creeper family

Genus  Catalpa Scop.– catalpa

Species            Catalpa bignonioides Walter– southern catalpa


There are some that consider this tree a bother. It has flowers that litter the ground, root suckers, and the leaves will smell bad when they are crushed. Caterpillars can defoliate the tree, but they are quick to recover.


The name ‘cigar tree’ comes from the fruit that look like cigars.

Source: NPIN


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