Thursday, September 15, 2011

Catalpa speciosa

I’ve had this image for a while but poor Catalpa just isn’t that interesting so it’s taken me a while to write about it. If you live in the Northeast US you’ve probably seen this tree before. Its long fruits are very distinctive, giving the tree an almost tropical appearance. I shot this image at the Boston Nature Center back in August. In fall the pods, which can grow up to 40cm long, turn brown and open slightly, giving the Northern Catalpa the nickname “cigar tree.” Cause, y’know, they kinda look like cigars.

The tree can grow up to 30 meters but its crooked growth pattern limits its use for lumber cultivation. Apparently it was, at one point, used extensively for fence posts and, less successfully, for railroad ties. More commonly it’s grown ornamentally.

Another odd thing about the tree is that the leaves do not color in fall. Scientists, if my last research still holds up, still don’t fully understand autumn leaf colors (that is the natural history/physiology side of why it happens) so maybe someday this will be an more interesting fact. For now it’s an oddity to see a tree with green leaves into October or November that then suddenly depart to the ground.

Check around New England if you haven’t noticed this tree before. You’ll likely notice those long pods.


No comments:

Post a Comment