Western Catalpa Tree, Thou Art Mine Enemy

First-time home-owners get messed around a lot. It’s due to a naivety we have and a natural trust in the previous home-owners that has not yet been shattered. Of course no one would ever sell a house that sucks!

Well, for the most part, regarding the house itself, we lucked out on trusting the previous owner. We haven’t had so many house problems (barring the near-flood and the subsequent destruction of our basement’s brand new carpet), but we’ve had a lot of yard issues. In fact, I guess a big part of the basement flooding is a yard issue… but still, warn us about that before we buy a house or fix it first so I never have to find out! Ya jerks!

But I digress.

Raising Junior is about 80% Fun and 20% Frustration, but the frustration side of it increases exponentially when a pee break outside means playing in the muck of our yard (and it’s all muck) instead of actually peeing. This is worse when it’s about -10°C on a morning where it was mild the day before — there is still mud everywhere that hasn’t frozen, and it’s so much fun to wait outside for the impressionable gentleman to do his business. On average, a bathroom break lasts 20 minutes or more in our muddy yard.  And my dad laughs at me for having rubber boots.

too many sticks

What he has in his mouth is a regular stick, but you may notice the many bean pods/capsules behind him just past the flagstone.

One of the reasons doggie bathroom breaks have been taking so long is because of these little bean pod things all over our yard. Our neighbour has a gigantic tree I learned was called a Western Catalpa, and it is the worst tree on earth — at least to me. We have asked before if she could cut it down, but she’s not sure about it just yet. Maybe because the pods don’t fall into her own yard too much.

Today I decided to take the dogs outside with me and rake up the pods, or capsules, as I later learned they’re called. Fifty or so pounds later of these things, and the yard is still a mess, the dogs still pad around in the mud, and my boots might be ruined (it was too cold to wear my rubber boots while I did this, so I was wearing my Sorels — should’ve worn woolly socks and stuck to the rubber boots).  But! The lawn has at least 5000 less capsules/bean pods on it, so I am very glad I did it.

worst tree to put in your yard

Through-the-window shot of this nightmare. See how it taunts you, even while you are behind glass.

As you’ll learn from this link, Western Catalpa trees are just about the most useless tree on earth. They shed their nuisance pods all year round, it seems, usually worst in fall, winter and spring. In July, it’s flowering season.  How pretty! The tree is filled with bell-shaped white and pink flowers for about a week, and then they all blow off the tree and onto our lawn, impossible to tidy up unless you count mowing over them. They look like crap if it rains on them before you can mow the lawn too.


I really don’t want to complain about a tree. I want more trees, as it looks barren and sad in our yard. I suppose it could be worse. The tree could have sticky pine needles, sap, or olives to filth up our yard, although trees that do that sort of thing generally have a purpose or at least look pretty. This blogger didn’t include the Western Catalpa on his worst trees list. Maybe I’m in the wrong.

Ugly as the pods are, they aren’t really a problem until the dogs get distracted. For example, half an hour just now, for an eventual trickle of pee after a long puppy nap, after which the puppy would normally loose his bladder all over the new rug after taking a step from his bed — yep, a half hour in the cold and mud, filled with more pods being blown into our yard, ha ha. If Junior didn’t sniff around in the house like he has to pee every 30-60 minutes, it would also be less wearing. He had three accidents yesterday (a new record!) so I’m paranoid now. Ah well. Like I’ve always said, women be shopping and dogs be sniffing.

Getting back to the original intent of this post, besides discouraging everyone from ever planting these awful trees in their yard, if you’re buying a house, especially the first time, take a look around. Chances are, you will not know what every tree is or does, but look for anything in the yard that might indicate a problem for you in the future. Apparently maples, although they shed like crazy in the fall, are one of the best kinds of trees to have for shade, because they don’t really bother you the rest of the year. Surely though, Hell hath no fury like a Western Catalpa. Or so I think they say somewhere in the middle of the Bible.

As for the dogs, I think the never-before-utilized back yard chain is becoming essential. Enough is enough.

Upon re-reading, does anyone else think my site should be called Bracketose or Hyphenose?

Do you have a nuisance tree in your neighbourhood or yard that drives you nuts?

About Nikki

I've been writing since I was in kindergarten where I Crayola-markered an epic tale of a tiger and a balloon on a stack of lined papers folded into a booklet and stapled along the edge (carefully, and by my teacher). I love DIY, sewing, folksy music, animals and getting out to look at and listen to nature.
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  1. Pingback: Spring Cleaning | commatose.ca

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