Common Names: Northern catalpa, hardy catalpa, western catalpa, cigar tree, catawba-tree
It is a medium-sized, deciduous tree growing to 15–30 meters tall and 12 meters wide. It has a trunk up to 1 m diameter, with brown to gray bark maturing into hard plates or ridges. The leaves are deciduous, opposite (or whorled), large, heart shaped, 20 to 30 cm long and 15 to 20 cm broad, pointed at the tip and softly hairy beneath. The leaves generally do not color in autumn before falling, instead, they either fall abruptly after the first hard freeze, or turn a slightly yellow-brown before dropping off. The catalpa tree is the last tree to grow leaves in the spring. The winter twigs of northern catalpa are like those of few other trees, having sunken leaf scars that resemble suction cups. Their whorled arrangement (three scars per node) around the twigs is another diagnostic. The flowers are 3 to 6 cm across, trumpet shaped, white with yellow stripes and purple spots inside; they grow in panicles of 10 to 30. The fruit is a long, thin legume-like pod, 20 to 40 cm long and 10 to 12 mm diameter; it often stays attached to tree during winter (and can be mistaken for brown icicles). The pod contains numerous flat, light brown seeds with two papery wings.
It is widely planted as an ornamental tree. It is adapted to moist, high pH soil and full sun, but has been able to grow almost anywhere in North America.