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Maybe I’m a bit biased because I ADORE the catalpa tree that came with my house, but I really feel sorry for anyone who has never experienced these beauties. I’m here today to tell you all about catalpas, and if you should consider planting one in your yard.
They might not be for all people (and certainly won’t thrive in all parts of the world), but I highly recommend you spend some time under one if you ever get the chance!
Catalpa trees are native to temperate regions of North America, but they can also thrive in the subtropics of North America, parts of Asia, and the Caribbean.
They can survive in all sorts of different levels of moisture and soil temperatures.
Deciduous trees that lose their leaves every fall and grow them back in late spring, catalpas can live up to 150 years (I’m hoping mine is on the younger end of that, but I fear she’s already pretty old). They can grow up to 60 feet tall.
They have gorgeous big white flowers with pink or purple and a bit of yellow coloring. The flowers always appear suddenly on my tree. One day there’s no sign of them, and it seems like the next they are there from nowhere. The blooms don’t last for more than a week or two, so enjoy every last bit of those beautiful flowers.
The leaves also take FOREVER to start growing. I always get worried that my tree has died because my maples will be fully green by the time my catalpa buds start to shoot out and turn green. Those leaves though are super unique. They are huge and look like elephant ears.
In the fall the trees start to grow seed pods that get up to 18-20 inches long. They’re pretty skinny, so they look like very long fingers hanging all over the tree (not in a creepy way though). Once the tree lose leaves for the winter, the pods fall as well.
I personally love the seedpods, but if you like a super well manicured lawn you might not like the mess they make. My dogs like chasing them as they fall from tree branches.
WILDLIFE SUPPORTED BY CATALPAS
Catalpa trees are host to many insect species, including the catalpa sphinx moth. The sphinx moth caterpillars eat the leaves, which are their sole source of food. There have been instances where whole colonies devour all the leaves on a tree, and can end up killing a tree, but this isn’t a common occurrence as far as I could find on Google.
The catalpa sphinx moth is actually a great example of why it’s important to plant native trees in your region. If you live in an area that has a sphinx moth population, catalpa trees are very necessary for their survival. No catalpa trees = no caterpillars. No caterpillars = no moths.
Besides insects, catalpa trees are also host to hummingbirds when the flowers are in bloom. I haven’t seen any at my tree, but fingers crossed for next year!
If you’re looking for an eye-catching tree for your yard, I highly recommend the mighty catalpa. Like I said above, I adore mine. It’s my favorite tree in my yard (but don’t tell the maples!). I love setting up my chair under it and spending my afternoon shaded by big elephant ear leaves. Even better if it’s flowering and I can see lovely flowers gently falling to the grass in the breeze.
Well what do you think? Are you intrigued? Tell me if you have your own catalpa tree, or if you have another favorite tree in your yard.