A single white bell-shaped flower with yellow and purple stripes inside. The edges of the petals are ruffled. From the Southern Catalpa tree. www.HudsonValleyGardens.us

Southern Catalpa tree flower

In mid-June the Catalpa trees are in bloom and the lemon-vanilla fragrance is so pleasant on a hot day. Picture of a pinnacle of Southern Catalpa tree flowers which are white with pink stripes inside. www.HudsonValleyGardens.us

The flowers of the the Southern Catalpa ┬áhave stripes inside – landing strips for pollinating insects.

Many pinnacles of white flowers on a Southern Catalpa tree. www.HudsonValleyGardens.us

It is a common tree in the Hudson Valley, I often see them growing by the side of the road and in people’s gardens.

Mature Southern Catalpa tree covered in white flowers. www.HudsonValleyGardens.us

Southern Catalpa tree in bloom


The tree grows to about 60′ high.

Mature Southern Catalpa tree with massive drooping branches that almost touch the ground. www.HudsonValleyGardens.us

Mature tree with large branches

The branches on a mature tree are very thick (2′ or so wide) and curve, sometimes almost touching the ground.

A heart-shaped leaf from a Southern Catalpa tree. www.HudsonValleyGardens.us

Heat-shaped leaves

The leaves are large, up to 12″ long. A friend explained how these thick leathery leaves are difficult to rake in the fall.

Green and brown seed pods on a Southern Catalpa tree www.HudsonVelleyGardens.us

Seed pods

Here are the green seed pods in July. The brown pods are from the previous year. The seed pods are about 15′ long.


Seed pods in winter

The seed pods remain on the trees during the winter

Many long brown seed pods hanging from the branches of the Southern Catalpa tree in winter, NY. www.HudsonValleyGardens.us

Seed pods hanging from the branches in winter

The Catalpa tree is also known as the ‘Cigar Tree’

Two seeds in the snow, fallen from a Southern Catalpa tree, winter in NY. www.HudsonValleyGardens.us

Seeds in the snow

Each seed pod is filled with hundreds of tiny seeds with fibrous ‘wings’ for dispersal by wind.

Two American Robins on the bare branches of trees in winter, NY www.HudsonValleyGardens.us

American Robins eating seeds

By winter, most of the seeds have disappeared, but some are still around and provide food for wildlife.

Whilst looking online for information about this tree, I discovered it is the host for the Catalpa Sphinx Moth

Brown colored Catalpa Sphinx Moth. Image by Wikipedia.org

Catalpa Sphinx Moth. Image by Wikipedia.org

According to online stories, the caterpillars make excellent bait for fish. Here’s a little more information about the caterpillar


I have not seen any caterpillars on the trees in my area (a result of pesticide use perhaps?)