Catalpa fargesii f. duclouxii
Common Name: catalpa
Type: Tree
Family: Bignoniaceae
Native Range: Western China
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 35.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Rosy-pink with purple brown spots
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Shade Tree
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions including both wet and dry soils. Tolerant of seasonal flooding. Prefers moist fertile loams.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Catalpa fargesii f. duciouxii, sometimes commonly called Chinese bean tree, is a medium-sized, deciduous tree with an open rounded crown that is native to central China. It was discovered by westerners around 1900, and was subsequently named after French plant collector Pere Francois Ducloux. This catalpa is most distinguished by its attractive foliage and spectacular flowers. Unlobed, broad-ovate leaves with pointed tips emerge in spring with bronze tinges, but mature to a rich medium green. Rosy-pink flowers with purple-brown spotting bloom in panicles in late spring (May-June). Flowers of this plant are considered to be ornamentally superior to the flowers of most other catalpas. Flowers give way to extremely narrow seedpods (to 1/4” wide) that may grow to as long as 30”. The seedpods mature in fall to dark brown and then split open lengthwise to release the seeds within.

Genus name comes from a North American Indian name.

Specific epithet honors Pere Paul Guillaume Farges (1844-1912), French missionary, naturalist and plant collector.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to verticillium wilt, leaf spots, mildew and twig blight. The larvae (caterpillars) of the catalpa sphinx moth may do considerable damage when feeding on the leaves.

Garden Uses

A mature, symmetrically rounded catalpa tree can be a tree of great beauty, particularly in spring and early summer when the foliage is young and the flowers are in bloom. Unfortunately, it is otherwise a rather coarse tree that does not always deserve a prominent place in the landscape. Branches are brittle and mature trees infrequently exhibit classic form. Foliage also tends to depreciate as the growing season progresses, the large leaves being subject to damage from hail, wind, insects and sometime disease. It can be effectively used in the landscape for difficult areas such as moist low spots or dry areas with poor soils.