Late blooming Catalpa, and what's with these skinny leaves?

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by wcutler, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    If I were naming things, this would be called "Catalpa salicifolia", which I looked up; I found mention of a shrub of that name, "brought to this country from Mexico by J.R. Poinsett...", who was doing such things around 1825 and was of course not leaving behind photographs. "This country" was the US, and he is said to have distributed seeds to his friends. Unsuccessfully, it would seem. Until now.

    I'm SURE it's Catalpa, and you know I'm right about these things at least 5% of my guesses (not that I'm keeping count). I've found Catalpa bungei, which with slightly broader lanceolate leaves than these, which I don't think looks quite right. And Catalpa longissima, which also doesn't have me convinced.

    I can't tell if this is a small tree or just a young tree. There are a lot of blossoms on the ground, so perhaps it's been in bloom for a week or two, but all other Catalpa have finished blooming here now. Everything continued to bloom late this year, so maybe this should normally bloom mid-August. Leaves are sort-of opposite. Flowers are around 4.5-5cm across.

    There is only one tree like this at Thornton Park, across from the train station near Terminal and Main.

    Any ideas on what this is? Is it not even catalpa?
     

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  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Look up Chitalpa, an intergeneric hybrid with Catalpa as one of the parents.
     
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  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Yep, × Chitalpa tashkentensis. Hybrid between Catalpa bignonioides and Chilopsis linearis.
     
  4. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    [Edited: I posted this just before I saw Michael's reply. Thanks, Michael.]
    Wow, yes! Thanks, Daniel. That name actually sounds familiar, but I'm not sure where I'd have heard it.

    On the Wikipedia page for Chilopsis, one of the parents, it mentions:
    Chilopsis is closely related to the genus Catalpa and hybrids can be made between the two genera. The nothogeneric hybrid between Chilopsis linearis and Catalpa bignonioides has been named x Chitalpa tashkentensis; as the name suggests, this hybrid was first raised in a botanic garden at Tashkent in Uzbekistan. It has broader leaves, up to 4 cm broad.​
    The common name for Chilopsis linearis is "desert willow", but it's not really a willow. It made me feel good about the name I gave it, though, and the 4 cm leaf width is about right.

    There are two cultivars: 'White cloud' and 'Pink Dawn'. 'White Cloud' has white or pale pink flowers, and 'Pink Dawn' has pink flowers. The photos of those look the same to me. I don't need to know which cultivar.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Of those two selections this would be expected to be 'Pink Dawn'.
     
  6. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Thanks, Ron.

    I'd meant to say that I couldn't find any fruits, and wondered if it was sterile, and I see on the Learn to Grow site that that is the case. The Learn to Grow page says that it's a small tree.

    But it also mentions that the leaves are downy, which I didn't notice at the time and there's no evidence of that in any of my photos. Nor did I notice a fragrance, which the leaves are supposed to have, but my not noticing that doesn't mean much. I did think I noticed a bit of powdery mildew, which this ehow page mentions their being susceptible to. This Arizona State U. page also mentions the powdery mildew, but says the leaves are glabrous (not hairy), and also that 'Pink Dawn' has deep pink flowers.

    Now I've found a 'Pink Dawn' photo at Oregon State U . (This OSU page has background info.) The ones in this photo do seem more pink than the one I posted above. Remember that this was planted by the Parks Board, which could be expected to come up with something unusual, though not always by design.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If it's 'White Dawn' it will look definitely white well before dropping.
     
  8. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I found another one of these Chitalpa, a street tree in my 'hood, though it could be a guerilla planting. No blossoms look "definitely white", so I guess it's 'Pink Dawn'.
     

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  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  10. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Thanks, Ron. What I'm starting to get too is the darker markings on 'Morning Cloud' and the addition of pale yellow markings in the throat on 'Pink Dawn'.

    I found a page with a comparison of Desert Willow (Chilopsis) and Chitalpa. It says it's comparing Catalpa as well, but doesn't seem to, except to say that winters in Tucson, AZ are too cold for Catalpa. Who'd have guessed, when they do so well here.
     
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  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    That would be a mistake. The North American Catalpa species are quite hardy. The desert willow is the less hardy of the two parents in the cross.
     
  12. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    The Wikipedia page for × Chitalpa - Wikipedia says:
    There are two major forms in North America, the 'Morning Cloud' a hybrid of Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) for desert hardiness and color, and Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa), and the 'Pink Dawn' variety formed as a hybrid of Desert willow and either Yellow Catalpa (Catalpa ovata) or Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa). Both forms were originally thought to be hybrids of Desert Willow and Southern Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides). (my emphasis)​
    So the comment on the Wikipedia Chilopsis page is at this point in error. I don't think I should be the one to correct it.
    Douglas Justice's July 2019 in the Garden blog features the Chitalpa: July 2019 in the Garden | UBC Botanical Garden.
     

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