Southern Catalpa

Catalpa bignonioides


Other Names:
Common Catalpa, Cigar Tree, Indian Bean

The Southern Catalpa is a tree native to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, but not to Virginia. It attracts honeybees, mealybugs, aphids, whiteflies, and moth caterpillars. It has a relationship with the caterpillars of sphinx moths, who can periodically defoliate the tree without killing it. People who fish collect sphinx moth caterpillars from the trees during the spring; the caterpillars remain effective as bait, even if they have been frozen. Southern Catalpa wood is hard, brittle, and resistant to rot, and it is used for railroad ties and fence posts. The tree is not popular with gardeners, because the leaves smell bad when crushed, and the petals do not stay on the tree long.

Identification Tools

Missouri Botanical Garden Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


North America Virginia

Southern Catalpa leaves
Leaves of a Southern Catalpa, which tend to be large

Southern Catalpa Tree
A stunted Southern Catalpa, located in the circle up Beverley Drive from the park

Southern Catalpa bark
The bark of the above Southern Catalpa tree

Return to the Index