Southern catalpa is primarily used today as a large ornamental shade tree. It is widely planted in urban areas as a street and lawn tree. Conservation uses include being planted in windbreaks. Some plant it to attract the catalpa worm, which are harvested and used as fish bait.The tree bark is separated into irregular shallow fissures with reddish-brown scales. On young tree seedlings the bark is thin and easily damaged by impact, or rodents. Twigs in winter have a unique identifying characteristic. They have sunken leaf scars which resemble suction cups. Their whorled arrangement of 3 “moon crater” scars per node is another trait easily identified. The flowers of catalpa are perfect. Flowering takes place from May through July. They occur in bell shaped corollas of 5 lobes. Individual flowers are showy, with the 5 petals in each flower being unequal in size, white with purple spots and orange stripes at the throat, in branched, upright clusters.

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