The Q&A Archives: Lotus Tree

Question: I have a tree I thought was a Lotus tree. It is tall and has large, wide leaves (6" across) that are bright green. It has white flowers with red centers that look a little like small orchids. After the flowers are done blooming, long seed pods grow. Can you tell me the name of this tree and are the seeds edible?

Answer: If the flowers grow in clusters and the leaves are smooth (not hairy), I'd guess you're growing a Catalpa. It's sometimes called the popcorn tree because of the flower clusters, or the vanilla bean tree, because of the long seed pods. The seeds are not edible. Catalpa is an excellent shade tree with very few bad habits. It can get quite large, however, so give it lots of elbow room in your landscape.

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