Catalpa Tree Facts
Catalpa trees are native to tropical regions of South America, including Brazil and Colombia. They have been cultivated since ancient times in these countries, but they were not widely used until the 19th century when Spanish settlers brought them back to Europe. Today there are many varieties of catalpa trees grown worldwide.
The most common variety of catalpa tree is the Brazilian Catalpa (Asteraceae). These plants produce large, oval-shaped fruits with a hard pulp. The fruit contains up to 40% sugar and is eaten fresh or dried for use in desserts, candies, beverages and other foods. The leaves are edible too; however, they contain no sap and must be chewed before swallowing to get any benefit.
The leaves are usually green, yellowish brown or purple-black in color. The flowers are white, fragrant and small. There is one species of catalpa tree that produces red berries which may be eaten raw or cooked like apples. The seeds are round and black in color.
Some varieties of catalpa tree produce blueberries, cherries and pears as well as grapes, plums and peaches.
Catalpa Tree Facts: Catalpa Tree Pollination
Most trees need to be pollinated which is the process of transferring pollen from the stamen to the pistil of a flower. Each flower needs to be pollinated individually by hand or by insects such as bees. Catalpa trees are wind-pollinated and their flowers do not produce nectar. Most insects are unable to feed on these plants; however, their flowers are large and colorful so they can attract birds and butterflies.
Catalpa flowers can be seen in April and May. They produce round, greenish-yellow fruit from early autumn through until summer. The fruit, which is about the size of a large grape, turns grayish-white when it ripens. It usually contains 2 flat seeds.
The seeds are edible and can be dried and ground into a nutritious flour that is high in protein.
Catalpa trees grow to a height of about 50 feet and they usually live for about 60 years. These trees are known to withstand wind, heat and drought. They produce excellent timber which is ideal for furniture and other items that require strength and flexibility.
Catalpa trees are mainly found in the eastern half of North America. The western range of these plants extends from California to Montana. They are very popular with gardeners and farmers in these areas. The tree’s hardiness make it ideal for growing in inhospitable conditions.
Catalpa trees grow best in damp, poorly drained soil. They won’t grow in salty or swampy soil. They also need a lot of sunlight and cannot thrive in shady conditions. A lot of gardeners plant them near the edge of wooded areas where they can maximise the amount of sunlight they receive.
Catalpa Tree Pollination
Catalpa trees grow rapidly when they are young, but their growth slows down as they mature. They have a short lifespan and most of them only live for about 60 to 75 years. These trees rarely sprout from seeds and most of them are grown from cuttings or root sprouts. They can also be propagated by layering, grafting or budding.
Catalpa trees are usually grown for their strong and flexible lumber. The wood from these plants is used to make furniture, tools, wagons, ladders, boats and a variety of other items. It is very durable and can last a long time if it is looked after properly.
Catalpa Tree Pollination
These trees produce strong fibers that can be woven into clothes or ropes. They are ideal for making sailcloth and other items that require a lot of flexibility. The wood from Catalpa trees is also very flammable and is used for starting fires and smoking meats. Native Americans often use the wood from these trees to smoke fish, hides and other foods.
Catawba Native Americans used the juice of crushed Catalpa leaves to treat sunburns, skin sores, rashes and other skin irritations. The root bark of these trees is known to have a range of medicinal qualities. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions including stomach ulcers, diabetes, constipation, diarrhea and colic. The root is also an effective diuretic and can be used to treat excess water in the body, such as bloating or swelling due to excessive drinking.
The bark contains alkaloids and can be used to make a strong painkiller. It is not recommended to use this treatment without the supervision of a doctor or medical professional.
These trees are also very popular with bird watchers, as they attract a wide variety of birds. They have large, elliptical leaves which grow on thick branches and their flowers are shades of white or purple. Catalpa trees provide a source of food and protection for birds all year round. They produce thick cover which can protect birds from severe weather conditions such as heavy storms or extreme heat.
They also produce a large quantity of fruits, which provide an abundant source of food for birds that eat seeds.
Catalpa trees are insect pollinated and they have a large number of blooms during the spring and summer. The flowers contain both male and female parts and need insects to transfer pollen from the male anthers to the female stigma. Bees and other insects travel from flower to flower as they search for nectar, which they suck from the flowers. As they move from flower to flower, the pollen grains that are attached to their feet get left behind and when they move onto the next flower, they leave with a dusting of new pollen.
If conditions are right and if enough pollen is transferred, then the flowers can be fertilized and grow into seeds.
Sources & references used in this article:
Fruit set, herbivory, fruit reduction, and the fruiting strategy of Catalpa speciosa (Bignoniaceae) by H INOUYE, T OkUDA, T HAYASHI – Chemical and Pharmaceutical …, 1975 – jstage.jst.go.jp
Catalpa bignonioides alters extrafloral nectar production after herbivory and attracts ant bodyguards by AG Stephenson – Ecology, 1980 – Wiley Online Library
In vitro propagation of Catalpa ovata G. Don by J Ness – Oecologia, 2003 – Springer
Effect of different plant growth regulators on callus induction in Catalpa bungei by K Lisowska, H Wysokinska – Plant cell, tissue and organ culture, 2000 – Springer
Contrasting exotic Solenopsis invicta and native Forelius pruinosus ants as mutualists with Catalpa bignonioides, a native plant by L Juan, W LiHua, W Junhui – African Journal of Agricultural …, 2010 – academicjournals.org