The Best Tree That You Probably Do Not Want

June 14, 2024 · 1 minute read
The Best Tree That You Probably Do Not Want

When I get asked “what is your favorite tree?”  I don’t usually think of a whole species, I think of one individual tree.  My favorite individual tree changes on a whim, but there is one that frequently comes to mind.  On the North edge of Richmond behind John Marshall High School there is a catalpa tree in Roy West Park that is a personal favorite.  It has a beautiful root flair and lean which makes it so you can walk up into the tree with a little balance, and bravery.

Many people ask what a favorite tree is because they are thinking of planting one.  A catalpa is probably not the right tree for your spot.  Every catalpa tends to have it’s own unique shape.  Every tree is messy, but catalpa trees are MESSY.  The flowers, and seed pods are a lot, but as an extra bonus, some summers catalpa worms will completely defoliate a tree, and leave behind a generous amount of caterpillar poop.  The trees bounce back with another flush of leaves, but for a while you have a bare tree in summer.

On the positive side; catalpas are big enough to be a nice shade tree with big heart shaped leaves.  They also have flowers beautiful enough to be considered ornamental.  The catalpa worms are also reported to be great for large mouth bass fishing. There are 2 species of catalpa that are both native to eastern North America.

Catalpa trees are a great example of a fantastic tree that needs the right kind space to be a good tree.  If you have a large space that can get messy, this may be the tree for you.