I woke to find the two contending lead branches snapped off. Not entirely sure why as the winds have been mild. I hope not foul play. This is a Southern Catalpa tree. I live in south Texas. None of the remaining branches really strike me as good candidates to take over. There's 4 branches at equal level. Looking for what is the best approach? Options I can think of:

  1. Leave as is and see how tree responds
  2. Cleanly cut the damaged area on lead branch. See if tree pushes out new growth to take over.
  3. Pick one of the remaining 4 branches to take lead. Cut back the other 3. This would require cutting more then 25% of the tree.

Open to other ideas. Pics attached and yes I realize it's suffering from chlorosis.

1 Answer 1


In the north ( eg. Chicago) ,catalpas are often severely pruned and tolerate it well ; so loosing a couple branches will do no lasting harm. I would only clean up the broken stump. Footnote : When I first went birdwatching at High Island TX, It took me awhile to figure what the 75 ft trees with flowers were because I had never seen an un -pruned catalpa tree before.

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    I agree with @blacksmith37, with the exception that you should cut the broken trunk back to the first leaf scar. I have a young (northern) catalpa myself and the terminal bud and six inches of trunk died during the winter of 2017-18. I waited until the tree leafed out and then cut the dead part back to the first leaf scar. Within a month or so I had three new leaders (the top three leaf scars each budded). I cut them back to a single leader the following spring (hedging my bet to make sure that at least one survived the winter). The tree has been doing fine since then.
    – Jurp
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 20:13
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    We have northern catalpas in our area, and when we cut our trees down, the catalpas kept growing back (the younger one did for a lot longer than the more mature one, but they didn't hold on as long as the Siberian elm, whose stump we even ground, and it still kept growing back). Northern Catalpas will get huge, too; our neighbors have one that's probably as tall as maybe four or five houses stacked. Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 0:05
  • Thanx! I cleaned the stump and it looks like it's pushing out new growth on the lead trunk.
    – Ifrit
    Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 19:13

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