Indian Bean Tree.
A broad and rounded hardy ornamental tree, with a well branched crown when mature. The foliage comprises large heart-shaped light green leaves to 200mm long and almost as wide. These large leaves are highly ornamental and in some respects are the plants crowning glory - apart from the glorius flowering in high summer.. Havng said that, it is worth planting Catalpa bignonioides in a quite sheltered position because persistent exposure to strong winds can damage the leaves and make the plant look a little second hand;.
Once a tree has achieved a degree of maturity, perhaps five years of age, it will start to produces large panicles of sweetly tubular, bell-shaped; white flowers with two rows of yellow spots and numerous purple spots on the tube and lower lobe. Superficially the flowers resemble those of the foxglove. The flowers are then followed by slender fruits, about 200mm long, hence the name 'Indian Bean Tree' that decorate the tree in autumn. It is said that these were used by First Nation Amercian Indians to make a hot beverage, a form of ersatz coffee.
Native to the south eastern United States, and hence fully hardy as far as cold is concerned and equally happy in hot summer.
Catalpa bignonioides is named after a Monsieur Bignon, a botanist to the French King Louis XVI - the French occupation of that part of the world also celebrated in the name 'Louisiana'.
Grow Catalpa bignonioides in any reasonably fertile soil, in full sun Fully hardy and with a final height and spread in the range of 6-8m. Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.