Saturday, June 13, 2009

Native Plants, Historic Places

Catalpa at the Big House- Malabar Farm

One of the regular sites for Greater Mohican Audubon Society's beginner's bird walk, Malabar Farm State Park is well known for several reasons. It is one of the most visited state parks in Ohio, home of author Louis Bromfield, and the Big House (a small portion shown in the photo) is where Bogie married Becall.

While looking for birds, today we noted this Catalpa or Cigar-tree, Catalpa speciosa was in peak display. Catalpa, while probably not true natives of Ohio, were popular in the 1920's or so, and are often found lining old farm properties and city lots.

They have since fallen out of popularity -probably due to the giant seed pods bound to fall on well-manicured lawns- and I have yet to find one in a local nursery. Not one to be easily dissuaded, I once raised a whole grove of them and passed them out to any and all takers.

Catalpa flower

The flower, though short lived, is quite lovely. It is a white version of its near relative, the more commonly known Hummingbird or Trumpet vine, Campsis radicans. Both are members of the Bignonia family, as the large trumpet-shaped flowers and elongated seed pods bare witness.

While Catalpa may not be a true Ohio native, it is still a mighty attractive, disease resistance tree from our region of the U.S., and one we continue to enjoy in our own yard.

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