Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’ (Red) Indian bean tree – family bignoniaceae

Head Gardener Ric Glenn writes: “Dulwich Park’s Indian Bean Tree near the picnic area behind the lake is a splendid sight, with its over-sized, vivid yellow-green leaves. One of the last trees in the park to come into leaf, it is certainly worth the wait (see pic).

indian_bean_tree_20120722_1180179573
Indian Bean Tree

The tree is not in fact from India, it originates in the southeast of the USA.  It is called ‘Bean Tree’ because the long seed pods that develop after summer white flowering resemble beans. The seeds contained inside the pods however cannot be considered beans and I have found no references to them having ever been used as a food source by the original inhabitants of that continent or later settlers.