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Northern Catalpa

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Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa): A medium sized shade tree with enormous leaves resulting in a very coarse texture, use where this is required; very showy white and purple orchid-like flowers in early summer, long narrow beanpod-shaped fruit in fall are very ornamental.

Characteristics

Average Landscape Height:
50 feet
Average Landscape Width:
35 feet
Growth Rate:
fast
Genus:
Catalpa
Species:
speciosa
Flower Color:
white
Flower Period:
in mid summer
Summer Foliage Color:
green
Minimum Light:
partial shade
Maximum Light:
full sun
Minimum Moisture:
dry
Maximum Moisture:
wet
Plant Form:
oval
Canopy:
high
Pruning:
late winter pruning
Pollution Tolerance:
high
Other Species Names:
Western Catalpa
Branching:
decurrent
Flower Eye Color:
yellow
Flower Form:
orchid
Flower Fragrance:
high

Ornamental Features

Northern Catalpa features showy panicles of fragrant white orchid-like flowers with yellow throats and purple spots rising above the foliage in mid summer. It has green deciduous foliage. The enormous heart-shaped leaves do not develop any appreciable fall color. The fruits are showy brown pods displayed from mid summer to late winter. The fruit can be messy if allowed to drop on the lawn or walkways, and may require occasional clean-up.

Landscape Attributes

Northern Catalpa is a deciduous tree with a shapely oval form. Its strikingly bold and coarse texture can be very effective in a balanced landscape composition.

Planting & Growing

Northern Catalpa will grow to be about 50 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 35 feet. It has a high canopy with a typical clearance of 7 feet from the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. As it matures, the lower branches of this tree can be strategically removed to create a high enough canopy to support unobstructed human traffic underneath. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 70 years or more.

This tree does best in full sun to partial shade. It is an amazingly adaptable plant, tolerating both dry conditions and even some standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for xeriscaping or the moisture-conserving landscape. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is native to parts of North America.

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