Does this look like an elegant poinsettia?

Tree catawba leaves

We usually think of the colors of leaves in the fall. But the young leaves of spring contain equally magical colors.  The leaves in the photo are from the catalpa/catawba tree. When I was a kid we called them cigar trees and Indian bean trees because of their long, bean-like seed pods which were fun to play with. The leaves of this native flowering tree eventually become heart-shaped or three-lobed.  They are the sole source of food for the catalpa sphinx moth caterpillar. When caterpillars are numerous, infested trees may be completely defoliated. Due to their large leaf size, catalpas are a popular habitat for many birds, providing them good shelter from rain and wind.

Because the caterpillars are an excellent live bait for fishing, some dedicated anglers, particularly in southern states, plant catalpa mini-orchards for their own private source of “catawba-worms”.

Catalpa is occasionally used as a tonewood or sound board in guitars. Who knew?

 

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Published by

Carrie Staples

Author, illustrator of "The Yarn Animal Book", probably the only craft book with instructions for making such unique yarn animals as an orangutan, an ant eater, a llama and a star-nosed mole and "The Single Minded Prince, a fairy tale for all ages about a boy and a pirate captain who both misbehave. The books and a booklet series based on each different yarn craft topic covered in "The Yarn Animal Book" (pompoms and other really easy yarn crafts, knitting, crocheting, rya, needlepoint and embroidery), are available on Amazon and Kindle.

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