This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
IT has always been a wonder to me, in reading lists of trees given for ornamental, for street, for timber, and western prairie planting, that the Catalpa is so seldom mentioned and planted - it certainly only needs to be seen and known to be appreciated. Mr. Foster, in November number of Horticulturist, speaks of two kinds, one as tender, and the other as hardy. I was not aware that there was more than one kind; the one we have is perfectly hardy here, at Cincinnati; ours has very large leaves, the largest of any hardy tree we have; the flowers are numerous, even on very small trees, quite fragrant, last some time, makes a dense shade tree, very free from insects, so far as I have observed; and above all, for value in western tree-planting, it is, to the best of my knowledge, a most durable wood for posts, etc., standing in the same list with Mulberry, Locust and Cedar; and for rapidity of growth, there are very few kinds that will equal it. I have one standing on my place that has been planted about fifty years, it will measure fifty feet in height and eighteen inches in diameter at the butt; single trees are apt to grow very spreading, but in close planting, for timber, they will grow straight and tall.
Where is the native place of this tree? I was under the impression that it was a native of Iowa and Illinois, from what an uncle of mine, who moved from this place to Davenport, Iowa, many years ago, told me; he said that there they grew large and plenty enough for making railroad ties, and were used for that purpose; was he mistaken in the tree? I am very sure he was speaking of the Catalpa at the time. In conclusion, will say that it never sprouts, but will spread to some extent from the seeds. C. J. J.