Chitalpa tree pink dawn

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Thursday – June 28, 2012

From: Waco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Question about the Chitalpa tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

A bush w/6″ long pencil thin seed pod, leaves 4″x1/2″, flower that looks like the flower on the Chitalpa tree. Is there a Chitalpa bush. The one I have I grew from seed from the pod; flat, round w/dark dot in center and furry. It is now about 4′ high, but the one I got the seed from is about 12′ high w/o a trunk like the Chitalpa tree. The reason I equate it w/the tree is the flower looks exactly like the one on my bush.

ANSWER:

The Chitalpa tree (X Chitalpa tashkentensis) is a hybrid from a cross between Catalpa bignonioides (Southern catalpa) and Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow). The two plants are from the same family (Family Bignoniaceae, Trumpet-Creeper Family) but are not only different species, but also from different genera (Catalpa and Chilopsis). Since the Chitalpa tree is a hybrid it is usually sterile and doesn’t produce fruit. That’s one of the desirable features of it because it doesn’t leave a “mess” under it from the falling seed pods. You can read the description from Oregon State University.

Now, I am a bit confused. Do you actually have a Chitalpa tree and did it produce seeds and one of those seeds grew into the bush you are asking about? If this is the case, it is very unusual since Chitalpa trees are sterile and don’t produce fruit containing seeds.

Is it possible that your bush is actually a young Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow)? Its maximum height is 12 to 40 feet. Here is a photo of the long, thin seed pods of Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow) and a photo of its trunk and bark from Oregon State University. You can see photos of the seeds from the seed pods on the Vascular Plants of Gila Wilderness site.

Or, is your plant a young Catalpa bignonioides (Southern catalpa) tree? Its maximum height is 25 to 40 feet. You can see many photos of Catalpa bignoniodes, including its seeds and trunk, at the Discover Life site.

Since the Chitalpa tree is a hybrid and not technically a North American native, it doesn’t appear in our database, but you can see photos and more information from Delange.org and Cuyamaca.net. Perhaps by comparing photos of the three trees you can determine the identity of your bush.

From the Image Gallery

Southern catalpa
Catalpa bignonioides
Southern catalpa
Catalpa bignonioides
Southern catalpa
Catalpa bignonioides
Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis
Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis
Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

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How to Plant a Chitalpa Tree

Chitalpa tashkentensis, also known as sweet desert willow, is an interesting deciduous hybrid combination of traits. Chitalpa’s parents are the somewhat scraggly desert willow and an inferior Eastern U.S. shade tree known as catalpa. Oddly enough, crossing the two ugly ducklings has produced an unlikely success, cold hardy as low as USDA Zone 6. Chitalpa inherits drought resistance and overall but enhanced appearance from its desert parent. Eastern ancestors contribute larger size, a higher tolerance to poorly drained soils and orchid-like blooms that are more attractive than those of their desert counterparts.

Choose a well-draining spot in full sun for your chitalpa early in the spring. Cultivate the area to a depth of about 6 to 8 inches and amend with some well-rotted manure if desired.

Remove the chitalpa from its growing container. Gently loosen the soil surrounding the root ball and spread the root tips out.

Dig a hole about 1 1/2 times the diameter of the chitalpa’s root ball and roughly as deep. Position the tree in the hole so that it will be planted at the same depth that it occupied in the growing container.

Back fill the hole, gently firming the soil around the chitalpa’s roots. Water the area lightly to settle the soil.

Apply 1 to 3 inches of organic mulch, keeping it about 6 inches away from the chitalpa’s trunk to avoid rot.

Water the newly planted chitalpa deeply but slowly during its first season. This will discourage shallow root growth as well as diseases of the roots. Allow the top 2 or 3 inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Once established, this plant will require no further supplemental waterings.

Feed your chitalpa tree a good all-purpose fertilizer. Please follow the packaging instructions carefully.

Chitalpa

x Chitalpa tashkentensis

The Chitalpa tree, x Chitalpa tashkentensis, a hybrid of Catalpa and Desert Willow trees, is a medium-sized tree noted for its big and bright pink, white or lavender blooms that appear from late spring and into fall. It’s an ornamental shade and street tree that is bird friendly and sure to attract hummingbirds and pollinators into your garden. This North American native is ideal for use as a specimen tree or placed in a wildlife garden.

Chitalpa is a fast growing tree. It produces a unique multi-trunk structure that branches out into an interesting pattern that is sure to add an appealing look to most any Southwestern landscape. This deciduous tree loves full sun exposure and requires low to moderate water use once established. Homeowners looking to bring a water-wise tree into an arid landscape will appreciate the beautiful greenery and flowering blooms of a Chitalpa tree. It’s ideally suited to most soils and climates of the Southwest.

A Chitalpa tree is attractive even when not in bloom. Its soft green leaves and foliage create an inviting landscape presence. In fact, its thin leaves and open branching casts a light shade, making it easy to garden under the tree. It adds a great color contrast with bronze and burgundy and looks fantastic with lavender, pink, purple, silver and white flowering plants.

Chitalpa trees stay at a medium size, so they work very well when planted alone or in rows. Feel free to plant along a border to create a natural privacy screen along property lines. When in bloom, a stunning single specimen looks incredible under nighttime landscape lighting. Feel free to speak with a Moon Valley Nurseries pro for placement ideas. Ask us about our free design consultation!

Plant with Moon Valley Nurseries line of fertilizers for spectacular results! We offer free professional planting on all box sized trees as well as the best warranty in the industry! You buy it, we can deliver and plant it!

x Chitalpa tashkentensis
Family: Bignoniaceae
Chitalpa

The Chitalpa is a cross between Catalpa bignonioides and Chilopsis linearis. The Chilopsis is a desert tree, sometimes called a Desert Willow. From the Chilopsis, the Chitalpa inherits long 3 to 5 inch dark green leaves and the ability to withstand some dry heat. However, unlike its desert parent, the Chitalpa can withstand low temperatures of around minus 15 degrees. Flowers are orchidlike and produced in July or August at the ends of new growth. At several feet a year the Chitalpa reaches its 25 to 30 foot height and breadth quickly and makes shady spots fast. It is a drought-resistant plant, a trait inherited from the desert willow, and it is fairly hardy, having withstood temperatures as low as 9F. It has been noted that it will freeze back to the ground in Zone 6. Although many fast-growing trees are intolerant of windy situations, chitalpa can withstand even strong winds without breakage. Unlike either of its parents, chitalpa is sterile and produces no messy seed pods. Propagation: Cuttings. The initial hybrids between Catalpa and Chilopsis were created in Uzbekistan in 1964 and introduced to the United States by Robert Hebb of the New York Botanic Garden in 1977. (Chitalpa is a combination of the scientific name of the two parents, while the specific name identifies the city in Uzbekistan where the hybrids were created.) Although in cultivation in the United States during the 1980s, the hybrid remained unnamed until 1991 when Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden assigned the name x Chitalpa tashkentensis.

Similar plants:

  • Abutilon x hybridum (Flowering Maple, Weeping Maple,Chinese Lantern)
  • Afzelia xylocarpa (Craib, Makha Tree, Cambodia Beng Tree)
  • Allamanda x violacea Cabernet (Mini Red Allamanda, Cabernet Allamanda)
  • Aloe x nobilis (Gold-Tooth Aloe)
  • Annona cherimola x Annona squamosa (Atemoya)
  • Arctotis sp., Venidium, x Venidoarctotis (African Daisy)
  • Begonia x albopicta (Bambusiforme Begonia, Cane Stemmed Begonia)
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  • Brugmansia X candida, Datura candida (Angel’s Trumpet)
  • Brugmansia X insignis (Angel Trumpets)

More similar plants

SelecTree: Tree Detail

General Notes

Chitalpa is an intergeneric cross between Catalpa bignonioides and Chilopsis linearis. It is an unusual small flowering accent tree, especially useful in riparian or native garden settings, usually multi-trunked or low-branching. It blooms best in full sun, when it receives moderate moisture. It becomes taller in half shade. Its grayish-white bark presents an interesting silhouette in winter with its bare branches. It generally remains below 25′ in height.

Family: Bignoniaceae

Additional Common Names

PINK DAWN, CHITALPA

Tree Characteristics

Spreading with a Low Canopy.

Rounded, Umbrella or Vase Shape.

Has Deciduous foliage.

Height: 25 – 35 feet.

Growth Rate: 36 Inches per Year.

Longevity 40 to 150 years.

Leaves Lanceolate to Ovate, Gray Green, Gold, Deciduous.

Flowers Showy. Pink. Flowers in Spring, Summer or Fall. Has perfect flowers (male and female parts in each flower).

Brown, Beige or Mostly Green Capsule, Very Large (Over 3.00 inches), fruiting in Fall Wildlife use it.

Bark Light Green, Scaly.

Shading Capacity Rated as Moderate in Leaf.

Shading Capacity Rated as Low out of Leaf.

Litter Issue is Flowers and Wet Fruit.

Chitalpa ‘Pink Dawn’
Chitalpa is the name given to the bi-generic cross between the desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) and catalpa (Catalpa bignoniodes). The name is correctly written as x Chitalpa to indicate this hybrid origin but for simplicity these plants will be referred to simply as Chitalpa. The initial hybrids between Catalpa and Chilopsis were created in Uzbekistan in 1964 and introduced into the United States by Robert Hebb of the New York Botanic Garden in 1977. Although in cultivation in the United States during the 1980’s, the hybrid remained unnamed until 1991 when Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden assigned them the name x Chitalpa tashkentensis. Chitalpa is a combination of the scientific name of the two parents and the specific name identifies the city in Uzbekistan where the hybrids were initially created. Two cultivars were additionally named by Rancho Santa Ana. the pink flowering cultivar as ‘Pink Dawn’ and the white cultivar as ‘Morning Cloud’. San Marcos Growers has selected ‘Pink Dawn’ to grow as in our opinion it is the showier of the two.

Chitalpa ‘Pink Dawn is an attractive small to medium sized ornamental tree that seems to have inherited the best features of both parents, being both beautiful and ideally suited to most of the soils and climates of the American Southwest. Among the best features of ‘Pink Dawn are the abundant clusters of showy pale pink flowers with each cluster containing from 15 to 40 flowers. The 1 inch long flowers have a funnel-shaped throat with conspicuous purple nectar guides that line the inside and emerge to give orchid striping to the flared pink petal lobes. Flowering initiates in May in Southern California and continues well into late fall.

Chitalpa is a rapid growing deciduous tree, branching readily near its base and has ascending branches that forms a dense broad oval crown. Although it is difficult to determine eventual size for these new trees it has been speculated, based on the growth of the oldest specimens that they will grow to 20-25 feet tall. It is a drought resistant plant, a trait it inherited from the desert willow, and it is fairly hardy, having withstood temperatures as low as 9 degrees F – It has been noted that it will freeze back to the ground in USDA Zone 6. Although many rapidly growing trees are intolerant of windy situations, Chitalpa can withstand even strong winds without breakage. Unlike either of its parents, Chitalpa is sterile and produces no messy seed pods. Additionally the flowers dry on the plant rather then fall fresh and so do not become a slick safety hazard on a walkway or patio.

No tree is without faults and although it has few, it has been noted that Chitalpa will mildew in southeasten US and will do likewise in cool coastal areas. This tree also has a habit of suckering near the base, making it difficult to create a high headed tree necessarily along walkways and in small patios.

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