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Southern catalpa

  • Trees and Shrubs
Catalpa speciosa
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)
Catalpa speciosa.
  • Catalpa speciosa.
  • Catalpa speciosa.
  • Catalpa speciosa.
  • Catalpa speciosa.



Origin and description

Southern catalpas are small deciduous trees reaching 10-12 m. in height, used primarily for their crown-shaped foliage. The deciduous, dense, coarse leaves appear late in May. The flowering in early summer is also very interesting.

Fragrant white flowers are clustered in panicles of up to 25 cm. They exhibit two yellow stripes as well as brown spots.

Species, cultivars and related plants

‘Nana’: a small tree grafted at 2 m above the ground to give the plant the shape of an umbrella. The bright green foliage is composed of ovoid leaves, 15 to 20 cm wide. The treetop is rounded, dense and regular. White flowers appear in late June, on large erect panicles. This cultivar can be used individually for its foliage and flowers. It prefers an environment sheltered from prevailing winds, because the wood is brittle and not frost-resistant. Its vigorous annual re-growth will compensate for any losses caused by cold.

Common name

Southern catalpa

Latin name (genus)

Catalpa bignonioides

English common name

French common name

Botanical family

  • Bignoniaceae

Easy to grow?

Catalpa is limited to the Montreal area, where it requires shelter from the cold. The fruit can be considered harmful. Leaf buds appear only in the late spring.


  • Zone 5b

See also

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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