February 8
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Plant Genus of the family Bignoniaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Catalpa This genus of 11 species of small to medium deciduous trees occurs in North America, Cuba and southwestern China. They are attractive trees with a somewhat tropical appearance due to their large long-stalked leaves. They bear showy upright panicles of 2 in (5 cm) long, bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are followed by hanging bean-like seed capsules that range up to 30 in (75 cm) in length. The genus name is a corruption of the North American Indian name for the plant. CULTIVATION: Catalpa make excellent specimen trees for parks and gardens and are also good for street planting. They adapt to cold and heat but should be sheltered from wind to protect the large leaves. A sunny site is best and the soil should be rich, moist and well drained. Young trees may require protection from late frosts and should be trained to a single trunk to prevent branching too close to the ground. The species are propagated from seed sown in autumn and the cultivars from softwood cuttings taken in late spring or early summer.
Tecoma There are 13 species of mostly evergreen trees and scrambling shrubs in this genus of the bignonia family. All but one are native to the Americas, from southern Arizona and Mexico to the West Indies and South America as far south as Argentina. One species (Tecoma capensis), until recently placed in the separate genus Tecomaria, is native to southern and eastern Africa. They grow in a variety of habitats but favor disturbed areas with strong, light, fertile soil. Pinnate leaves are borne in opposite pairs and the leaflets have toothed edges. Flowers borne in showy terminal clusters are yellow, orange or red, funnel-shaped or narrowly bell-shaped, with 5 unequal petals. The fruit is a smallish pod splitting into 2 halves to release quantities of small, delicate, papery seeds. CULTIVATION: Fast-growing tecomas make fine ornamentals for the tropical and subtropical garden, suitable for a shrub border or as lawn specimens. In cool climates they can only be grown as potted shrubs in a greenhouse or conservatory. They like a sunny but sheltered position and reasonably fertile soil with good drainage. Propagation is from fresh seed, or from tip cuttings or larger cuttings from the previous year?s growth; suckering species such as Tecoma capensis can also be divided or layered.

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