April 21, 2016 0

Trees of Colorado: The Western Catalpa

The Western Catalpa tree, sometimes called a Catawba or Helicopter tree, is a large broadleaf deciduous tree that works well as a showpiece in a space large enough to accommodate its 40-75-foot height and up to 40-foot wingspan.


Its huge heart-shaped leaves give it a dense, distinct, almost tropical look that sets it apart from most Colorado-native trees, and its large white flowers put on quite a springtime show. It’s probably best known, though, for the 8-12-inch bean-like seed pods that have entertained kids for generations—and frequently annoy dads on mowing days.


Hardy in USDA zones 4-8, the Western Catalpa does well in Colorado’s climate. It likes full or partial sunlight and prefers moist, well-drained soil, but does well in many different types and is fairly drought-tolerant. It is both disease- and insect-resistant.

Its large, asymmetrical branches give it an interesting winter look, but the branches are brittle and can snap under the weight of a heavy snow, so pruning for strength and shape is important.

The Western Catalpa is a proven performer that makes an excellent feature tree in Colorado lawns and parks up to 7,000-foot elevations.

If you’re considering adding a Western Catalpa to your landscape, or have one that needs maintenance, Donovan Arborists offers planting, pruning and shearing services in the Denver area. We’re happy to give free estimates to homeowners and property managers for any services they may need.

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