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Catalpa: the cigar tree

Photo by JamesDeMers from Pixabay

The Catalpa plant better known as the cigar tree, is one of the most popular specimens in European and Italian gardens in particular. Its name refers in particular to the elongated shape of its fruits, very similar to cigars, with a thin and long shape up to 40 cm. The choice generally falls on this type of vegetation because it guarantees particularly rich flowering from spring to autumn. This plant is appreciated above all for its dual decorative and fruitful function, in fact, in addition to generating splendid flowers, it is possible to collect very particular fruits. It is also a tree that has numerous varieties, from the golden variety with golden-green leaves, to the purple variety, with flowers characterized by purple spots, very characteristic.

The plant is rich in large, broad leaves with a bright green color. Its presence in a garden therefore provides the right contribution both in aesthetic terms and in terms of comfort, giving pleasant shaded areas for reading or resting. The catalpa is a large tree with deciduous foliage, it originates from North America. It looks like a tree with a short stem but with many branches. Its very thick crown is usually large and rounded, while its bark is very dark and with very deep wrinkles. The catalpa has a sudden growth but despite this it has a very long life, think that the longest-lived specimens can reach heights of about 8-10 meters. Particular is its flowering in late spring, in this period in fact the catalpa produces white bell-shaped flowers with small orange shades. With an intense aroma, its flowers are of a unique beauty, at the end of the flowering period the plant produces pods rich in non-deciduous seeds.



Exposure and care

The catalpa tree must be planted or placed in bright and very sunny areas, in fact this plant loves the shaded areas very much even if it develops without problems in semi-shaded areas. This type of vegetation is not afraid of the cold and they react well enough to areas where there are cold and rigid trees. Usually the catalpa is planted in the period of October or November if we are in the garden, in the harvest of March or April if it is potted vegetation. Its flowering period is expected from May to August, with due exceptions for the different varieties. The fruits, on the other hand, develop in autumn and persist until spring. It is advisable to provide for an accurate but not aggressive pruning of the plant in the period from February to April, in any case before the plant starts its vegetative period.



· Watering

The catalpa does not need large or frequent watering and reacts well to places or periods of drought. Generally, if it is placed outside, natural watering due to summer or spring rains is sufficient. If you want a rich and flourishing flowering it is good to fertilize the plant in the months of April and July, to support the plant in its moment of maximum vegetation.



Illnesses

It is foreseeable that caterpillars or mining larvae can infect the plant, feeding on its foliage. We recommend the use of natural, organic products for the treatment of these infections. The diseases that most frequently affect this plant such as powdery mildew and verticillosis can be avoided, in fact precautions such as reducing the stagnation of water in the soil or treating the tree with sulfur products can remedy this problem.



Curiosity

Catalpa is a plant famous above all for its fruits, with a particular shape. In addition, one of the curiosities about the properties of this plant concerns the use that was made in the past. From the extract of bark, leaves, roots and fruits of the catalpa it is possible to extract a substance that has enormous sedative and antiseptic properties for our body. In ancient times this substance was also ideal for treating asthma or pertussis.

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