Catalpa trees are best known for their long fruits that hang in great masses from the trees in the fall. Although these seed pods look similar to those produced by members of the pea family, catalpa fruits produce flat, winged seeds rather than beans. In the spring, the tree produces showy flowers that are quite interesting because they exhibit a color pattern known as "nectar guides". These patterns guide intelligent insects like bees to the back of the flower for a nectar reward while the flower dusts the bee with pollen.
Because the tree has flowers, developing fruits, or mature fruits during most of the year, it is a relatively easy tree to recognize. The fairly large, heart-shaped leaves are also typical for the species.
There are two species of catalpa which are fairly difficult to distinguish. Most of the catalpas in Nashville are northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa). Although native to west Tennessee, catalpas are not common in the wild. But they are common in cities where they are planted and establish themselves in disturbed areas.
This is the end of the main campus tour. You can finish your tour by crossing 21st Ave.S. and returning to the Wesley Place Garage. You can also start the Peabody tour from the parking garage. It eventually returns to this same point.
If you parked in the Lot 82 visitor parking, cross the street and follow Scarritt Place until it dead-ends into 19th Ave.S. Turn right and follow 19th until it runs into Edgehill Avenue. Turn left and follow Edgehill until you are back at the parking lot.
If you started the main campus tour from the west side at the 2525 Parking Garage, you should continue around the main campus loop by going south on 21st Ave. S. to Quercus falcata. It is the huge tree on the right in front of the Nursing School.