Deciduous tree growing to 65 ft (20 m). Has large oval leaves in whorls of 3, white flowers in conical clusters, and long thin fruits (bean pods).
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to the southeastern U.S., this tree is often planted in gardens in southern and western Europe.
The bark contains catalpine, and oxylenzoic and protocatechetic acids.
History & Folklore
Catalpa bark was formerly used as a substitute for quinine in treating malaria.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
The mildly sedative and narcotic bark is used to treat asthma, whooping cough, and other spasmodic coughs in children. The distilled water of the fruit, in combination with herbs commonly used to treat eye problems, such as eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) and rue (Ruta graveolens), makes an effective eyewash for conjunctivitis and other eye infections.
Never use the roots, which are highly poisonous.