This raggedy-looking tree, which I took a photo of this morning, is not dead. It’s just a late bloomer. Soon, provided the weather stays warm, it will be covered in white blossoms with purple dots and patches of yellow. Its enormous heart-shaped leaves will provide shade all summer long. In the fall it will shed its leaves over the course of a few days, and during the winter months, the dry seed pods will drift down and blow about the neighborhood. Which brings up a story about catalpa trees. During my first days in real estate, I had a West Valley client whose prized, and very large, catalpa tree was poisoned by a neighbor. (As I mentioned, the seed pods can be a nuisance, cluttering up yards and giving rise to legions of upstarts.) My client was so affected by her neighbor’s act that she decided to move out of her house, which is how I met her and came to know about catalpa trees.
Catalpa trees are not specific to West Valley. They can be found all across the Salt Lake Valley, no doubt brought here by the original settlers. They are trees that can thrive anywhere, which explains the West Valley connection. Growing trees isn’t easy in the western parts of this valley. The soil is alkaline and often rocky and the wind blows all year round, bone dry from the desert in the summer. None of this bothers the catalpa. It’s my experience that there are more catalpas in West Valley City than anywhere else in the valley.
Another thing about catalpas. They have worms and are, in fact, the sole habitat of the catalpa sphinx moth, whose caterpillar is the catalpa worm. Catalpa worms are fine fishing worms, so you’ll often find these trees in the yards of fishermen.