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Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa bignonioides)

C. syringaefolia. Bignonia catalpa. L.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Indian Bean Tree
Catalpa bignonioides

A fast-growing tree with an extensive root system, it has been planted on land that is subject to landslips or erosion in order to stabilize the soil[7].

Wood – coarse and straight-grained, soft, not strong, moderately high in shock resistance, very durable in the soil. It weighs about 28lb per cubic foot. It is highly valued for posts and fencing rails, and is also used for interior finishes, cabinet work etc[46, 61, 82, 227].

  • Medicinal Use

    A tea made from the bark has been used as an antiseptic, antidote to snake bites, laxative, sedative and vermifuge[222]. As well as having a sedative effect, the plant also has a mild narcotic action, though it never causes a dazed condition[7]. It has therefore been used with advantage in preparations with other herbs for the treatment of whooping cough in children, it is also used to treat asthma and spasmodic coughs in children[7, 254]. The bark has been used as a substitute for quinine in treating malaria[254].

    The leaves are used as a poultice on wounds and abrasions[222].

    A tea made from the seeds is used in the treatment of asthma and bronchitis and is applied externally to wounds[222].

    The pods are sedative and are thought to have cardioactive properties[222]. Distilled water made from the pods, mixed with eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) and rue (Ruta graveolens) is a valuable eye lotion in the treatment of trachoma and conjunctivitis[7].

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    The roots are highly poisonous[254].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown outdoors, or in a cold frame, as soon as it is ripe[200]. Stratify stored seed for 3 weeks at 1¡c and sow in spring[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Softwood cuttings, 10cm long, in a frame. They should be taken in late spring to early summer before the leaves are fully developed[200]. Root cuttings in winter[200].
Prefers a good moist loamy soil and a sunny position that is not exposed[1, 11]. Tolerates heavy clay soils[200]. Very resistant to atmospheric pollution[188]. Plants become chlorotic on shallow alkaline soils[202]. Plants are hardy to about -15¡c, probably more in continental climates[200], they grow best in areas with hot summers[188]. Protect plants from late frosts when they are young[200]. A very ornamental plant[1], it is fast-growing in the wild where it often flowers when only 6 – 8 years old[229]. The sweetly-scented flowers are borne in forked panicles at the end of branches[245]. There are some named varieties selected for their ornamental value[188, 200, 202]. The trees transplant easily[200]. The crushed foliage has an unpleasant smell[202]. Another report says that the leaves are attractively scented when bruised[245]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
South-eastern N. America – Florida, Alabama, Missouri and Louisiana.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.