Ask a Question forum: Catalpa dead

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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Aug 21, 2018 1:16 PM CST
Sharon's Catalpa is dead; I checked the bark for green every few weeks and now there is none.
There are suckers coming from the base of the trunk.
I did some on-line checking and it was generally said Catalpas are hard to kill but this one went from a banner year to dead in one winter.

Does anyone have any idea what could kill a fairly large, trunk about 14-16 inches in diameter, tree so quickly?
It did not show signs of trouble last year and it has survived ten plus years of far more nasty winters.
Name: Rob Torres
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RobGlen
Aug 21, 2018 1:25 PM CST
How unfortunate! Catalpas are beautiful trees. It could be verticillium wilt caused by a fungus.
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Aug 21, 2018 2:04 PM CST
There are two varieties of catalpa. The Northern Catalpa is native to the central US along the Mississippi River valley near where the Ohio river joins it.
I suspect that it fell victim to the cold winters.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Aug 21, 2018 2:17 PM CST
Ours is a Northern type and believe me, last winter was not a hard winter here.
A decorative apple tree not far from it is still going strong, and that cripple, actually it is so healthy it is becoming annoying, should have died if weather did it .
It had weathered truly bad winters, little to no snow cover and twenty plus below zero several times when it was younger and more susceptible which is why it is so frustrating that after a year where it bloomed best ever and looked just great it suddenly goes PFFFT.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 21, 2018 2:20 PM CST
Catalpa are quite common in gardens around here (Zone 4a) so I'd be surprised if winter killed a 10+ year old tree. If it was verticillium wilt you maybe able to see the typical streaking inside the branches although I don't know if it would still sucker if that was the cause.

There were no individual branches that seemed less healthy than the others last year, and no sign of borers, or mushrooms at the base?
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
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Leftwood
Aug 21, 2018 2:21 PM CST
More likely to do with the erratic seasons we have now. We did not have a particularly cold winter in Minnesota. Obviously, something was different recently. Did the tree color up this past fall as it usually does?

I hate climate change.....
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Aug 21, 2018 2:39 PM CST
I looked closely at the range for Northern Catalpa as a double check from what I remembered from college 40 years ago. Minnesota is quite some distance away.
If you would like to think that some disease killed it or some other issue such as insects.
But because it survived 10 winters and then died does not necessarily mean that one winter killed it. It is very likely to have died from a cumulative effect. Maybe the colder weather kept in from developing a full root system. Maybe the cold winds of last winter were from such a direction to push it over the edge. Maybe it was of marginal health all these years. We can't really say for sure.
They grew coconut palms on the beach at Sea Bright New Jersey for a total of eight years. No single winter was bad enough to kill them until a few years back. My sister in law lives in Sea Bright.
Now would you say that Coconut palms are fine for living in that zone or did the palms finally reach the end of the road and that they were just fortunate to have survived that long?
[Last edited by BigBill - Aug 21, 2018 2:41 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 21, 2018 3:06 PM CST
Catalpas around here have easily survived winters in the -30s (both C and F) and there are some very large ones in the area. Winter winds should not have much affected a deciduous tree since the wind does not lower the actual air temperature.

Natural Resources Canada give this range for northern catalpa, not sure if the link will work though
http://planthardiness.gc.ca/in...

If one goes along with the popular theory that profuse flowering indicates a problem, then perhaps the best ever bloom last year was an indication of something.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Aug 21, 2018 3:14 PM CST
My guess is Verticillium. It gets mature Catalapas around here and also Maples.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
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Leftwood
Aug 21, 2018 7:35 PM CST
There is always the provenance of individuals within a species that will influence hardiness, but Catalpas are not rare here in the southern third of Minnesota, even where I am, a half zone colder then RpR. Off the top of my head, I can think of five trees within 20 miles of me that are at least 40 years old.

Since verticillium infects through the roots (almost always), and certain roots in trees are connected primarily to certain branches, then for the whole tree to go instantly all at once, all the roots would need to be infected (relatively) simultaneously. That's not going to happen in any normal situation. But it could, for instance, if the tree roots were damaged by something environmental that would affect all the roots equally. Say, something that delayed the normal preparation that roots go through to survive winter. In such a case, verticillium would be the secondary opportunistic cause of death, brought on by an environmental trigger.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 8, 2018 12:28 PM CST
Paul2032 said:My guess is Verticillium. It gets mature Catalapas around here and also Maples.

I asked the professionals at the Minn. State Fair and they were surprised a Catalpa died that quickly but sight unseen agreed that what you listed above is the most likely culprit.
They told me how to look for and I will.
They also said Catalpas from suckers is a waste of time as they are horribly weak plants. Sighing!

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