The wood is similar for both North American species. The sapwood is narrow and gray while the heartwood is a uniform grayish brown. The wood has a faint aromatic odor and no characteristic taste.


The genus Catalpa is composed of 11 species native to North America(2), West Indies (5), and temperate Asia (china to Tibet) (4). The name is the Native American (Cherokee) name for this tree.

Catalpa trees are often planted as street trees and for shade in yards, but most often for their showy flowers. The tree has opposite, simple, entire leaves. The flowers are bisexual and formed in branched clusters. The fruits are large bean-like structures, resembling cigars.

Working Properties

Catalpa works very well with hand and machine tools, although it requires care to sand well.

Physical Properties

Light in weight, dries easily, with minimal shrinkage. Brittle and weak in bending and compression.


Very resistant to heartwood decay when is in contact with the soil.


Exterior and interior furniture, cabinetry, fence posts.