Southern catalpa (Catalpa bignonoides) flowers
Photo by Flickr user Piers Nye

Southern catalpa


  • This plant has a Plant Risk Evaluator rating of Moderate Potential Risk


Southern catalpa is a deciduous tree native to a small area from central Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia south to the Florida panhandle, where it mostly occurs along river banks.

It has very broad leaves that are rounded or heart shaped. The leaves emit an odor when bruised. Bell shaped flowers, similar to those of desert catalpa (Chilopsis linearis) bloom in May-June. After flowering it produces long narrow pods that mature and split open to release the seeds. Calflora shows its current distribution in California outside of cultivation.

'Aurea' has yellow leaves and 'Nana' never blooms.

Especially in drier, hotter places in California, Chilopsis linearis is a better choice.

Why is this plant not included on the invasive plant list?

Southern catalpa was included in the 2014 nursery survey and was found at 0.4% of stores. It is not commonly sold in California, and the impact and risk is too low to add it to the list.

More information

For more information about this plant, please see the following resources: