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how do you tell apart Northern and Southern Catalpa, really?

Posted by hairmetal4ever Z7 MD (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 31, 13 at 11:46

OK, I confess.

They're often derided, but I like Catalpas. Always have.

However, with the exteptions of the golden and purple leaved cultivars, I have a LOT of trouble telling apart the two native Catalpas...C. bignonioides & C. speciosa.

The only thing I can go off of is *usually* C. speciosa grows larger.

Are there any good "clues" to tell the difference?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: how do you tell apart Northern and Southern Catalpa, really?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 31, 13 at 14:26

Different crown structure, flower structure and flowering times. Northern is tall growing with smaller heads of bigger flowers earlier in the summer (June); in bloom the heads are bunchy enough for it to look kind of like a rhododendron, from some distance. Southern is broad growing with large and open, branching heads of smaller flowers still being out much farther along in summer.


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RE: how do you tell apart Northern and Southern Catalpa, really?

Sounds like 90% of the Catalpas I see around are Northern then.


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RE: how do you tell apart Northern and Southern Catalpa, really?

  • Posted by beng z6 western MD (My Page) on
    Fri, Nov 1, 13 at 8:54

Most of what you see in the mid-Atlantic states are N catalpa. The best way to tell on older trees is the trunk bark -- flaky, scaly on S catalpa, furrowed (like most other common trees) on N catalpa.


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