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Indian Bean Tree (Southern Catalpa) Catalpa bignonioides (Bignoniaceae) HEIGHT to 20m. Medium-sized deciduous tree with a short bole. BARK Greyish-brown and scaly. BRANCHES Mostly spreading with smooth, stout twigs tipped with very small orange-brown buds. LEAVES Long-stalked, large and broadly ovate, to 25cm long and 20cm across, with heart-shaped bases and short-pointed tips; margins are untoothed, upper surface is smooth and lower surface is downy. Leaves are tinged with purple and downy when young, becoming a lighter, almost transparent green when mature. Usually late to open and early to fall. REPRODUCTIVE PARTS 5cm-long flowers are an open bell shape with 2 lips; petals are white with purple and yellow spots; in large showy panicles in midsummer. Fruit is a long, slender bean-like pod, to 40cm long, that hangs from branches long after leaves have fallen; contains many inedible flat, papery seeds, to 2.5cm long. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION Native of SE USA, planted here and quite common in many large cities, including London.
- © PAUL STERRY/Nature Photographers
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