Chinese Catalpa

Catalpa ovata

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Chinese Catalpa (Catalpa ovata) at Shelmerdine Garden Center

Catalpa ovata

Catalpa ovata

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Chinese Catalpa (Catalpa ovata) at Shelmerdine Garden Center

Catalpa ovata flowers

Catalpa ovata flowers

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Chinese Catalpa (Catalpa ovata) at Shelmerdine Garden Center

Catalpa ovata fruit

Catalpa ovata fruit

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 40 feet

Spread: 25 feet

Sunlight:  full sun  partial shade 

Hardiness Zone: 3b


A small ornamental tree with very large, coarse leaves, showy orchid-like flowers in early summer, and interesting long, narrow beanpod-shaped fruit in fall; use where a coarse texture is required, makes a spectacular specimen for the front yard

Ornamental Features:

Chinese Catalpa has green foliage throughout the season. The large lobed leaves do not develop any appreciable fall colour. It features subtle panicles of lightly-scented buttery yellow orchid-like flowers with yellow throats rising above the foliage in mid summer. The fruits are brown pods displayed from mid summer right through to late winter, which can be messy if allowed to drop on the lawn or walkways. The rough khaki (brownish-green) bark is not particularly outstanding.

Landscape Attributes:

Chinese Catalpa is a deciduous tree with a more or less rounded form. Its strikingly bold and coarse texture can be very effective in a balanced landscape composition.

This tree will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. It is a good choice for attracting hummingbirds to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Messy

Chinese Catalpa is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Shade
  • Accent

Plant Characteristics:

Chinese Catalpa will grow to be about 40 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 25 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 5 feet from the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 70 years or more.

This tree does best in full sun to partial shade. It is an amazingly adaptable plant, tolerating both dry conditions and even some standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for xeriscaping or the moisture-conserving landscape. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution.

This species is not originally from North America.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Accent Shade
Flowers Fruit Texture Attracts Wildlife
Ornamental Features

Hours of Inspiration

Monday – Friday, 9am to 5pm
Saturdays, 9am to 5pm
Sundays, CLOSED

Shelmerdine Garden Centre Ltd.

7800 Roblin Boulevard
Winnipeg, MB R4H 1B6

Phone: 204.895.7203
Fax: 204.895-4372

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