Catalpa tree

Asked August 14, 2017, 1:11 PM EDT

Do catalpa trees go through years of dormancy? We have two catalpa trees on our property. We almost cut the one down because it appeared dead for two summers. It had very few leaves and didn't produce many flowers or seed pods. We are glad we didn't cut it down because it is now thriving. For the last three years(at least), our showpiece catalpa (huge and old and beautiful) has produced few leaves, flowers etc. and appears mostly dead. It shows ganache from numerous lightning strikes. We are hesitant to cut it down if it too is dormant or something like that and will come back. Our worry is if it is truly dead, that if it falls, whatever way it goes will be bad - potentially crushing our chickens, our cars, or our house. Any help you can provide would be appreciated.

Blair County Pennsylvania

1 Response

I suspect that your catalpas are infected with Verticillium Wilt.

Infected trees may die within a year or may survive to wilt to some extent every year. There are no effective controls. Do not replace a tree killed by verticillium wilt with another catalpa or other species susceptible to the disease. Here's a link to more info about this fungal disease:

For an positive diagnosis, you may either consult a certified aborist or submit a specimen to Penn State's Plant Disease Clinic. Here's the link:

To find a certified arborist in your area, visit the International Society of Arborists website:

I am very sorry about the condition of your huge old trees!