This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol3", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Trees, or some exotic species shrubs, with opposite or rarely verticillate simple petioled leaves, and large showy white or mottled flowers in terminal panicles or corymbs. Calyx closed in the bud, splitting irregularly or into 2 lips in opening. Corolla-tube campanulate or obconic, oblique, expanded above, 2-lipped, 5-lobed, the lobes all spreading, their margins crisped. Anther-bearing stamens 2, ascending under the upper lip of the corolla; anther-sacs glabrous, linear or oblong, divergent; sterile stamens (staminodia) 3, short (or occasionally 4 perfect didynamous stamens and 1 staminodium). Disk obsolete. Ovary sessile, 2-celled; ovules in 2-several rows on the sides of the partition. Capsule elongated-linear, terete, loculicidally dehiscent. Seeds flat, the large lateral wings dissected into capillary processes. [The American Indian name of the first species below.]
About 5 species, the following in eastern North America, 2 in eastern Asia. Type species: Bignonia Catalpa L. West Indian trees referred to this genus prove to be distinct.
Corolla thickly spotted within, 1'-1 1/2' long, the lobes crimped.
1. C. Catalpa.
Corolla little spotted, but purple-lined, 2 long, the lobes nearly flat.
2. C. speciosa.
Bignonia Catalpa L. Sp. Pl. 622. 1753. Catalpa bignonioides Walt. Fl. Car. 64. 1788. Catalpa Catalpa Karst. Deutsch. FL 927. 1880-83.
A tree, with thin flaky bark, reaching a maximum height of about 60° and a trunk diameter of 4°, the branches spreading. Leaves strong-scented, broadly ovate, entire, or 3-lobed, acute or acuminate at the apex, densely pubescent beneath, becoming glabrous above, obtuse at the base, 6'-12' long, the lobes, when present, acuminate; petioles stout, nearly as long as the blade; flowers white, numerous, mottled with yellow and purple within, 1'-1 1/2' long, in large terminal erect panicles; capsules 6-18' long, 4"-7" thick, thin-walled, drooping, the partition narrow.
In woods in the Gulf States. Escaped from cultivation northward as far as Pennsylvania and southern New York. Wood brown, soft, weak, durable in contact with the soil. Weight per cubic foot 28 lbs. June-July. Cigar-tree. Indian cigar-tree. Catawba.
Catalpa cordifolia Duham. Nouveau 2: pl. 5. 1802. Not Moench, 1794.
Catalpa speciosa Warder; Engelm. Coult. Bot. Gaz. 5: 1. 1880.
A tree, with thick rough bark, reaching a maximum height of 1200 and a diameter trunk of 4 1/2°, similar to the preceding species. Leaves not unpleasantly scented, broadly ovate, commonly entire, long-acuminate at the apex; panicles few-flowered; corolla faintly mottled within; capsule thick-walled, 8'-2o' long, nearly 10" in diameter.
In woods, southern Indiana to Tennessee, west to Missouri and Arkansas. Wood brown, soft, weak, durable. Weight per cubic foot 26 lbs. May-June. Cigar-tree. Hardy catalpa. Shawnee-wood.