The Indian Bean Tree or Catalpa is a deciduous tree native to North America, the Caribbean and East Asia introduced here in the early 1700’s. The Indian part of the name comes from a mispronounced and recorded name of a Native American tribe called the Catawba, so has nothing to do with India whatsoever.
These graceful ornamental plants have exceptionally large heart-shaped leaves from June and distinctive panicles of white flowers that stand proudly above the foliage complementing the beautiful golden leaves or contrasting the stunning purple variety, in late summer, often followed by the clusters of long slender seed or bean pods up to 40cm, from which the tree gets its name. It is a spectacular specimen for planting in the centre of a lawn for example, however needing some shelter as if exposed it could suffer some wind damage. The very large leaves of the Indian Bean tree provide a haven for birds with plenty of shelter from the wind and rain.
The varieties of Catalpa we supply are both outstanding in their own right. The Catalpa bignoides aurea or Golden Indian Bean Tree with its buttery yellow foliage that are bronze when young and the Catalpa x erubescens Purpurea with deepest velvety purple leaves will both add immensely to the landscape, preferring good fertile well-drained soil in a sunny position but sheltered from harsh winds and weather.
They can take on a multi-branched habit as the last stem growth in summer is nearly always caught by early winter frosts. In ideal conditions the Indian Bean tree will grow to about 15 metres and although not generally a long-lived plant there is one in a churchyard in Reading which is purportedly 150 years old.