Content Detail

Hybrid catalpa is the result of a cross between the Chinese catalpa and the native southern catalpa. Like other catalpas, this tree has showy white flowers in spring, followed by bean-like seed pods. This hybrid may be difficult to find in nurseries. When it is sold, it is often the cultivar ‘Purpurea’ that is available.

  • Family (English) Bignonia
  • Family (botanic) Bignoniaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Restricted sites, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 40-50 feet
  • Mature width 40-50 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Road salt
  • Season of interest late spring
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Broad, Round
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries, Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Wildlife Insect pollinators
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat: 

This tree is of hybrid origin.

Bark color and texture: 

The bark is brownish with thick ridges.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

The large leaves, up to 12 inches long, are either paired in an opposite arrangement or in a whorled stem attachment. The leaves are heart-shaped or sometimes three-lobed, with an entire margin. The fall color is yellow.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

The flower is a large, upright cluster of white bell-shaped flowers with yellow and purple spots. It flowers in early summer.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

The long, bean-pod shaped seed pods persist into winter.

Plant care: 

The flowers are beautiful and long-lasting on the hybrid catalpa. The wood can become brittle making it prone to wind damage. The pods create litter in the fall.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Hybrid catalpa may have a number of problems, including twig blight, verticillium wilt, and powdery mildew.

Purple catalpa (Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’):

This is a purple-leaved variety. The leaves are a very dark purple as they emerge in spring and change to dark green in summer.


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