My Dad has a big catawba tree which he planted about twenty years ago in his backyard. (Just found out that it came from his brother, George, so it came from Toccoa, Georgia - just like my Daddy and me!) You will see it spelled this way and pronounced this way, but it is really "Catalpa" and it is a native tree. It is also called Indian bean tree and fish bait tree. The fruits of the tree are long and bean like and was well known by Native Americans, but why is is also called fish bait tree? The catalpa tree is a native American tree that is known mostly to fishermen...
The sphinx moth lays eggs on this tree and they hatch into very large caterpillars. These caterpillars drop off onto the ground and they are very highly prized as bait for catfish! Here's an amazing thing about this tree, some years the caterpillars might completely eat every single leaf off this tree and yet, this does not harm the tree! Isn't that something? So, if you see this tree in the South with its large heart shaped leaves and worms are eating the leaves, leave them alone! And if you want to read a great piece about this, you may read it just here-Leave it be!
The word, "catalpa" is from the South, it is derived from the Cherokee language, one of the native American tribes who lived here. (There are Cherokees who still live in North Carolina, they are descended from the few who managed to escape from the forced Indian march to Oklahoma. You do know about this, don't you? So many died on the way there, it is known as "The Trail of Tears". Anyway, a great deal of our place names and plant names come from the Indians/Native Americans.)
Okay, where was I before I began thinking of the Cherokee and the forced march? Oh yes, the catalpa...
the Cherokees used to smoke the bean-like pod, they do look a bit like cigars.
Now, you all know how, for some reason, I seem to have an English connection to things. (I really don't look for this, it just happens.)
The oldest known specimen of the catalpa tree is in ...wait for it...
Reading, in Berkshire, England! The catalpa tree there is about 150 years old, it is in a church graveyard there and it is a magnificent tree. Reading about it (no pun intended, you pronounce the town "redding"), they tried to get rid of the old tree, and they planted a new one just beside it. Both trees are thriving! The old one refuses to die! The old tree is called the "trippy tree" as the hippies in the 60's and 70's used to smoke underneath it. (I do wonder if they smoked the bean like pods, just as the Native Americans did?) Want to read about the trippy tree or catalpa tree in England? Here is a link for you:.
Indian bean tree or "trippy tree" in Reading, England!
One thing, I would say to not plant this tree unless you have PLENTY of space, it is very messy, what with the worms and the very large leaves, but man oh man, it is one interesting tree!
This is just one more bit of knowledge from my Dad that I am sharing with you!
My Dad just called me and told me to turn the TV on to the RFD channel, one of his favorites was on there...
Narvel Felts. He might not be a household name but hey, if my Dad likes him, that's good enough for me.
See the things you learn from me and my Dad?