Catalpa X Erubescens ‘Purpurea’ (Purple Indian Bean Tree)

A superb candidate for stooling as this will maximise the production of glossy, deep purple leaves but at the expense of the flowers. Please contact us for stock availability and sizes.

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The young emergent foliage of this tree is stunning. They unfurl and plump-up into glossy plates like a carapace worthy of a Marvel superhero. In the first few weeks of spring many things in the garden are welcomed back with a kind of quiet familiarity. ‘oh, there you are again’ because we are expecting them. But then there is the otherworldly impact of Erubescens ‘Purpurea’ - something akin to finding ET in your shed.

The huge heart-shaped leaves have a metallic and reflective sheen to them, when fresh, which really amplify their strange beauty. Combined with the sheer scale of them on what is quite a diminutive tree, you have a specimen which startles us, happily, at the start of every year. They’ll settle down into a more chocolate-y green shade as the season advances and you can bet your best secateurs that they’ll surprise you again next year.

It’s deciduous and left to look after itself will form a not-too-big tree reaching about 6 metres or so. It could take anything up to 20 years to do this, making it a nice choice for any bijou space where you feel a tree is required. That said, it is a superb candidate for ‘stooling’ or coppicing. Treating it thus, you’ll establish a smaller tree but with even bigger leaves but you will do so at the expense of the flowers. These are rather nice - foxglove-esque. So you make your choice. Leaves or flowers. Why not plant a couple and have the best of both (other)worlds? We would.

It is hardy but be mindful that with those large leaves it’s best sheltered from strong winds. Will grow in any soil type as long as it is well drained: hates water-logged ground and having soggy feet.


N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.

As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well-watered when first planted.


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