Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)


Quick Facts

  • Native to the Midwestern United States
  • It is excellent carving material
  • Was used for fence post and railroads
  • Now commonly used for furniture and cabinets
  • Has one of the lowest shrink and expansion rates of the hardwoods


Catalpa produces large, white flowers with conspicuous red-yellow nectar guides along the lower petals.  The nectar guides change from bright yellow to a reddish-orange on older flowers even though the petals remain looking fresh the long, cigar-shaped fruit is filled with small, membrane-winged seeds. Catalpa’s heart-shaped leaves are arranged in a whorled pattern.  The leaves are large and heart-shaped.  Extra floral occur between the main veins underneath the leaves. The champion New York tree is 77 feet tall with a circumference of 205 inches in Oneida County.  The national champion is 81 feet tall with a circumference of 285 inches in Indiana.