Country Roads

Some people have favorite trees. My husband likes the native Cottonwood tree since it reminds him of his childhood, as his family lived by the Solomon River where the Cottonwood trees grew in abundance. He enjoyed hearing the sounds of their rustling leaves. For myself, my favorite tree is the native Catalpa tree.

It was about four years ago that my husband and I planted a Catalpa tree in our front yard. It has grown a lot since it was planted. Now it provides shade from the morning sun through the front windows of our house. Some may wonder why is the Catalpa tree my favorite but as with my husband liking the Cottonwood, the Catalpa tree brings back some of my childhood memories. When my parents moved to our family farm, my sisters and I played with our dolls under that tree, throwing sheets over its lower branches to make it our house. The hot summer sun didn’t seem to bother our outside play time under this favorite tree. We’d hold our tea parties there and make it into our cowboy fort. With another sheet on the ground, we’d often lay down and fall off to sleep.

When my sister and I grew up, we continued to share our memories with this grand Catalpa tree. Later our children would find it an interesting place to play when they visited their grandparents. This Catalpa tree still remains. While preparing with my husband for our landscaping, my sister shared she was going to plant a Catalpa tree in her back yard. A couple of years later, I decided to plant a Catalpa tree in our front yard so our memories could live on.

Wanting to learn more about this favorite tree, I did some research. There are three kinds of Catalpa trees; Northern, Southern and Chinese. Of course, the ones in this area are the Northern that typically grow 40 to 70 feet tall. The name Catalpa came from the Cherokee Indians. The word to them meant “showy” because of the tree’s large leaves, beautiful white flowers that appear in June, and later after the flowers fall off, the long green pods that grow on the tree. The pods fall off in the fall containing seeds. When we purchased our Catalpa tree, we made sure it would not be pod bearing as most of those trees are.

The Catalpa tree is easy to grow, can thrive in full sun or partial shade and in any type of soil. It is a fast grower, and does well in the mid west. These trees are often seen in yards and in the wild, often growing in pastures and grasslands. As with other trees, the Catalpa loses its leaves in the fall.

I wonder how many others have a favorite tree they remember from their past.


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