Catalpa speciosa Warder

Northern Catalpa, Cigar Tree

Catalpa speciosa plant

Family - Bignoniaceae

Habit - Tree, to 30 m tall.

Stems - Woody, to 1 m in diameter.

Leaves - Opposite or in whorls of 3, long petiolate, ovate, acuminate, entire, typically somewhat truncate at base or cordate, glabrous to sparsely pubescent above, pubescent below, to 30cm long, 20cm broad.

Inflorescence - Terminal panicles to 20 cm high and broad.

Catalpa speciosa inflorescenceInflorescence.

Catalpa speciosa inflorescence2

Flowers - Tubular, to 6cm long, 4cm wide. Corolla white on outside, inside purple lined and spotted with some yellow spotting also, lower lobes without notches. Fruiting capsules to 60cm long, 1.5cm in diameter, terete. Seeds flat, to 4cm long, with a coma.

Catalpa speciosa flowerFlower.

Catalpa speciosa flower

Catalpa speciosa calyxCalyx.

Fruits - No info yet.

Catalpa speciosa fruitsFruits on branches.

Flowering - May - June.

Habitat - Low woods, streambanks, also cultivated.

Origin - Native to small portion of midwest U.S. including southeastern Missouri, cultivated throughout the state.

Lookalikes - Catalpa bignonioides.

Other info. - "speciosa" means "showy" and the trees certainly are when in bloom. The panicles of this species are fewer flowered and shorter than the closely related C. bignonioides, but the flowers are larger and appear more dense in bloom. The two can be difficult to distinguish. The common term "cigar tree" derives from the appearance of the fruits.

Photograph taken in Lebanon, TN., 5-16-03 (DETenaglia); also at St. Joe State Park, St. Francois County, MO, 5-25-2010, in Hermann, Gasconade County, MO, 9-11-2010, and at at Sycamore Access along Hwy 181, Ozark County, MO, 5-3-2012 (SRTurner).