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5. Northern Catalpa
One of Winona State University's largest and oldest trees is the Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa).
The Catalpa is also referred to as the Indian Bean Tree. Early settlers of the Midwest, the natural range of the tree, adopted the name Catalpa from the Cherokee Indians that populated the region. The Latinate term, speciosa, means ornamental, referencing the tree's large heart-shaped leaves and its decorative flower clusters which are attractive to insects and photographers.
Catalpa flowers secrete nectar; interestingly, so do the leaves. The nectar glands are found in the base of the petiole or leaf stem.
The Catalpa is a fast-growing tree. It can add up to an inch-wide ring to its trunk wood in a single growth year. At the same time, Catalpa wood is remarkably strong and often used as railroad ties.
The Catalpa tree offers something of interest for each season of the year. In late June, the tree is decorated with scalloped and ruffled white flowers that cover the entire tree. The flowers appear as though they have been artfully splattered with small flecks of purple paint. Throughout summer, the Catalpa's dark green heart-shaped leaves are among the largest tree leaves found in Minnesota. Later, long pods form and hang throughout the fall and winter at the same time that the leaves turn yellow-green and then black, before falling.
A mature Catalpa can be found just outside the south entrance of Watkins Hall.
(see #32 on the maps)
Last Modified: Thursday, May 08, 2008 13:59 by