C is for Catalpa

Look at these giant blossoms–they are on inch across if you think your eyes are deceiving you!

If you didn’t put it together, huge flowers mean larger puddles of nectar for bees.

Northern Catalpa, Catalpa speciosa, might be an exotic-looking tree but it’s a native to North America! We admit we’re only guessing it’s the northern species because of where we live. It’s in a yard, and you humans tend to plant things out of their range for their flowers. There is also a southern species, but form what Ms. Flora read, both grow in the southern U.S.

Catalpa prefers to be planted in the sun and grows to be quite a large tree–40-60 ft tall–in moister soils, but tolerates dry soil. It blooms in June to July depending on the latitude.

The leaves of catalpa are the sole source of food for the caterpillars of the catalpa sphinx moth, and may defoliate it, which is sad, because the leaves of the Southern Catalpa, Catalpa bignonioides, contain sacs of nectar, nectaries, on the undersides of their leaves, which bees visit both before and after the tree blooms. We squirrels don’t quite understand this scientific explanation, but some of our human readers may want to check the details on this plants.bees.net website.

Check out the next catalpa you see in bloom!

The letter C seems to have a lot of bee food plants, so we’d like to give mention to crabapple trees, and to currant and cotoneaster shrubs.

The bees must have liked this cotoneaster, because it’s covered in berries.

Purchase plants and seeds from a known source that does not use pesticides / insecticides, particularly neonicotinoids. They are not safe for honeybees and native bees. Watch this bee researcher’s Ted Talk to learn more about bees, why they are dying and how you can help:

Marla Spivak: Why Bees Are Disappearing

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