Monday, June 17, 2013

In Bloom: northern catalpa

The northern catalpas (Catalpa speciosa) are blooming. These guys are native to the Ozarks but are fairly common here because they were the hot landscaping trees of the mid 19th century. They have huge heart-shaped leaves and gorgeous clumps of large white flowers. If you look down a flower you can see they are marked like a bee landing strip. Also, if you look at the underside of the leaves you can see little yellow spots. These are extra floral nectaries. When catalpa trees suffer too much insect damage, they will produce nectar here to encourage predatory ants to protect the tree.


  1. On a walk the other day I was wondering about catalpa pollination and said to my husband I bet BCB could tell me all about it :) I love these trees and all the ones in my neighborhood are huge.

  2. There are a lot of this also here in our place. I didn't know its native name though.

  3. My favorite tree and the only one I just genuinely miss here in California. The week or two these are in bloom is such a pretty time around Ann Arbor.

    Related to the name, once upon a time in Ann Arbor at the corner of Fourth Ave. and Ann St. was Joe Parker’s Catalpa Inn. Not only is this the Joe mentioned in the University song "I Want To Go Back To Michigan" , and not only is Joe Parker’s Saloon the bar that was home to the old bar table tops in glass cases in the Union basement, but also this is the reason there is a "JOE" mosaic at that corner where now stands Kaleidoscope.

    More on the history of all of the above can be found in this photo of said mosaic: