A tree usually 20 to 30, sometimes 45 ft high, with a spreading head of branches as much or more in diameter. Leaves 5 to 10 in. long, and as much wide; broadly ovate with a heart-shaped base, often conspicuously three-lobed, each lobe with a short, slender point; pale green and at first finely downy above, permanently downy especially on the veins beneath; stalk 2 to 6 in. long. Panicles 4 to 10 in. high, narrowly pyramidal, produced in July and August. Corolla dull white stained with yellow and spotted with red inside, about 1 in. long and wide, the base bell-shaped; of the spreading lobes the lower one is the largest. Seed-vessel 12 in. long, 1⁄3 in. diameter. Bot. Mag., t. 6611.
Native of China; introduced from Japan to Europe by Siebold in 1849. If not a native of Japan, it has for centuries been cultivated there; Kaempfer recorded it in 1693. From the two American species it is distinguished by its more conspicuously lobed leaves and smaller flowers, and from C. bungei by the larger, downy leaves and smaller flowers. It was also introduced by Wilson from its native habitat in China.
cv. 'Flavescens'. – Flowers even smaller than in the type (about 3⁄4 in. long and wide), the whole corolla suffused with yellow. The names “wallichii” and “himalayensis” by which it has been known would suggest a Himalayan origin, but no catalpa is known to be native to that region.
From the Supplement (Vol. V)
The largest example recorded in Britain grows at Syon Park, London, and is almost certainly the one mentioned by Elwes and Henry, who give its measurement in 1912 as 62 × 5 ft; it is now 72 × 8 ft (1982).