It can be severely pruned and shaped and therefore it is often used as an ornamental tree in landscaping. The fragrant flower has the appearance of an orchid. The seed pods which develop are long and stringy. The leaves are large and tear-drop shaped. An early frost can cause the leaves to turn black and fall from the trees to the disdain of gardeners.
In late May and early June along the rivers and streams of Kansas, one may occasionally come across the Catalpa sunning itself along a river bank. The beautiful white flowers have purple and yellow markings. The tree becomes a gathering place for insects, bees, butterflies, and wasps as they gather the nectar and pollinate the flowers. The flower is quick to bloom and as quick to fade, so don't tarry in trying to catch a glimpse of this beautiful flower.