The Q&A Archives: Chitalpa Tashkentensis Tree

Question: I bought the above mentioned tree at Lowes. It looks like one that my neighbor has but I don't know anything about it nor can I find it anywhere. I'm hoping that you are the supplier and that you can fill me in. I like to know about the nature of a tree. Thank you.

Answer: For exotic bloom you can't beat chitalpa tashkentensis, a cross between the eastern catalpa and desert willow. Chitalpa is hardy to USDA Zone 6. It is well adapted to hot, dry locations as long as the soil drains well.

Chitalpa is a small to medium tree with open, upright branches and good form. Flowers are orchidlike and produced in July or August at the ends of new growth. Flowering begins in May and continues well into late fall. Its leaves are longer and broader than desert willow, but much smaller than catalpa.

Chitalpa is a fast-growing deciduous tree, branching readily near its base and with ascending branches that form a dense, broad oval crown. Although it is difficult to determine eventual size for these trees it has been speculated, based on the growth of the oldest specimens, that they will reach 20-25 feet tall.

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. Flowers dry on the plant rather then fall fresh and so they don't become a slick safety hazard on a sidewalk or patio.

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.

Hope this information answers all your questions about your new tree.

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