Catalpa speciosa (Warder) Warder ex Engelm.



All photographs are copyrighted and are the property of E. Brunner.

Family:  Bignoniaceae

Native or Introduced to Illinois: native

Natural Habit in Illinois:  bottomland woods; floodplains

Leaf:  Leaves are opposite (whorled), simple.  They are 8 to 12 inches long and heart-shaped.  Leaves are thick and firm, dark green above and downy beneath. 

Flower: Beautiful large white flowers in upright clusters.

Fruit:  The fruit is a slender, 8 to 20 inch long pod that ripens in early autumn.  The pod hangs on the tree all winter and opens in the spring before falling off.   

Twig/Bark:  The bark is thick, reddish brown, with scaly, longitudinal ridges.

Size/Form/Shape:  Catalpas grow rapidly. The trunks are short, often crooked, supporting a broad, rounded crown of slender, spreading branches and thick twigs. 

County Distribution Map for Illinois:  


Sources for the Sullivan Middle School Tree Identification Guide were obtained though the use of the following sites:

The information below is from the National Arbor Day Foundation.  This information can be viewed in the original (source) form by visiting The National Arbor Day Foundation at

Sun Exposure:  This catalpa does well in Partial shade to full sun
Soil Type:  prefers deep, moist, fertile, well-drained. acidic, slightly alkaline, clay, loamy, moist, sandy wide range of soils; is drought tolerant.
Growth Rate: Medium to fast

Hardiness Zones: 4 - 8
This catalpa can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the zone map.