Wordless Wednesday: Catalpa trees


Campanula and Veronicastrum against the golden leaves of Calalpa bignonoiodes ‘Aurea’, VanDusen Botanical Garden
The same garden from beneath the fretwork of the branches
A basketload of May/June blooms on the species of this North American native tree
Now, in close-up
And from a distance in an east-end Toronto parkette
Helen and Sarah and a catalpa tree, circa 1962



  1. I love the picture of you two from days of yore. Catalpas were widely planted in my city, too, and played a part in my childhood. I even tried to smoke an "Indian cigar" – silly girl!

    1. Thanks, Ilona. When we were kids, we thought "catalpa" sounded Italian (the tree is called "catawba" in some regions). I was surprised to learn that it's a native North American tree, although not native to Ontario. At least, not since the latest ice age. There are a few catalpa trees in Toronto with extra-thin bean pods that persist all winter. They fringes they make are actually quite decorative.

  2. Nice to see a fully grown golden Catalpa. I've got one in my garden that I keep coppiced. Makes for great foliage in the border. Hope I can continue to keep it under control.

    1. Do you find that coppicing makes the leaves extra-large? That's what happens with the pollarded versions in my neighbourhood and, if memory serves, the lopped-back trees don't flower. Is that your experience?

  3. Hi Helen,

    aren't the flowers so unusual and exotic-looking for a big-@ss tree? (reminds me a little of bearded iris/moth orchid.)

    My kids are fond of using the seedpods as variations of whips or lashes on dear old dad, lol…

  4. Van Dusen Botanical Garden looks like a beautiful place! Catalpa trees are pretty common down here in NC but I haven't seen any specimens as full and distinguished-looking as the ones you've shown.

  5. A comment from a reader Jay who left his email address (I don't want him to be inundated by junk mail by publishing it):

    Hi Helen, do you know a specific location where I can see a catalpa tree in Toronto (maybe two).

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