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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Catalpa bignonioides Walt., Catalpa spp. (Catalpa, bean tree)

Nomenclature etc. BIGNONIACEAE. Trade and local names: bean tree, cigar tree, catalpa (common, hardy, western), Shawnee wood, Indian bean, Indian cigar (US); bois puant (FR); Trompetenbaum (DE). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Tree. Geographic distribution: temperate Asia and North America (cultivated in Europa).

General. Growth ring boundaries distinct. Heartwood basically brown and yellow, without streaks. Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour. Odour indistinct or absent. Density 0.35–0.45 g/cm³.

Vessels. Vessels present. Wood ring-porous. Vessels arranged in tangential bands (in last formed latewood), in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows or radial rows of 4 or more or in clusters (clusters only in last formed latewood). Average tangential vessel diameter 250–300 µm (earlywood only). Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 8–11 µm, not vestured. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders or with reduced borders or apparently simple, similar to intervessel pits, rounded or angular. Helical thickenings present, only in narrow vessel elements, throughout the body of vessel elements. Tyloses in vessels present, thinwalled.

Tracheids and fibres. Vascular or vasicentric tracheids sporadic to absent. Fibres very thin-walled. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered. Helical thickenings absent. Fibres non-septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma present, banded. Axial parenchyma bands not marginal (or seemingly marginal). Axial parenchyma paratracheal. Paratracheal axial parenchyma vasicentric and confluent. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 3–5.

Rays. Rays 4–8 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), (1–)2–4 cells wide. Rays with multiseriate portions as wide as uniseriate portions absent. Aggregate rays absent. Rays of one size. Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular), or two or more cell types (heterocellular); homocellular ray cells procumbent. Heterocellular rays with square and upright cells restricted to marginal rows, mostly 1 marginal row of upright or square cells. Sheath cells absent. Tile cells absent. Perforated ray cells absent. Disjunctive ray parenchyma end walls indistinct or absent.

Storied structures. Storied structure absent.

Secretory structures. Oil and mucilage cells absent. Intercellular canals absent. Laticifers or tanniniferous tubes absent.

Cambial variants. Included phloem absent. Other cambial variants absent.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals not observed. Silica not observed.

Illustrations. • Transverse section. Catalpa bignonioides. • Tangential section. Catalpa bignonioides. • Radial section. Catalpa bignonioides. • Miscellaneous. Catalpa bignonioides. Very small vessels clustered in latewood (left) with helical thickenings (right).


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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