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Indian cigars

Of our many fine native trees, only a few exhibit really stunning floral displays. Of these, most offer their charms en masse, rather than in detail. An exceptional genus that in single-twig closeup can equal almost any native wildflower is the catalpa or catawba, Catalpa bignonioides and Catalpa speciosa. (The cousins are almost identical in appearance, with overlapping ranges due to extensive landscape planting.) This juvenile specimen, flowering for the first time, may not produce its characteristic seed pods for a few years yet. meanwhile, it presents an entirely satisfactory display of dinner plate-sized leaves—

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rendered even more impressive by transilluminating sunset—

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and complementary-hued blossoms:

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