Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’

8 Sep

Catalpa x erubescens 'Purpurea' (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 10m

Eventual Spread: 10m

Hardiness: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b

Family: Bignoniaceae

Catalpa x erubescens 'Purpurea' Flower (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ Flower (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ is a small deciduous tree with a spreading habit. Its mid green leaves are opposite, cordate with entire margins, up to 40cm long and 20cm broad. In spring its leaves emerge dark brown to purple. Its bark is brown/ grey and becomes ridged with age. Its fragrant bell shaped flowers are white with yellow stripes and purple spots inside, appear in panicles of up to 30 and are up to 4cm long and 5cm broad. Its fruit is a hanging legume like pod, round in cross section and may achieve a length of up to 40cm long. These usually remain on the tree during the winter months.

Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’, commonly known as Purple Catalpa or the Indian Bean Tree. The species, Catalpa x erubescens, is a hybrid between Catalpa bignonioides and Catalpa ovata. This hybrid is noted for being resistant to honey fungus.

Catalpa x erubescens 'Purpurea' Leaf (19/09/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ Leaf (19/09/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

The etymological root of the binomial name Catalpa is believed to be a mispronunciation of the name of the Catawba Native Americans. Erubescens is derived from the Latin erubesco meaning ‘to blush’, in reference to its spring leaves. Purpurea is from the Latin meaning ‘purple’, once again in reference to its leaves.

Catalpa x erubescens 'Purpurea' Seed Pod (19/09/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ Seed Pod (19/09/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

The landscape architect may find  Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ useful as a flowering specimen tree. It is tolerant of urban pollution. It prefers a sheltered position. Care should be taken when locating this tree as the seed pods and seeds fall off this tree during the winter and spring.

Ecologically, Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ is attractive to pollinating insects.

Catalpa x erubescens 'Purpurea' Bark (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ Bark (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The Royal Horticultural Society has given  Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ requires little maintenance. This tree may be pruned hard in March or April.

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