Category Archives: Catalpa Tree

Catalpa Tree

March 24, 2020

Historic Jacksonville, Inc. decided this week to address the reported toilet paper shortage. Jacksonville’s early settlers did not have the opportunity to “squeeze the Charmin.” A Sears Roebuck catalog was considered a welcome amenity in an outhouse. However, the large soft leaves of the Catalpa tree might have served a similar purpose. These quick-growing trees were certainly popular plantings in pioneer settlements throughout the West. For years, a huge Catalpa tree with its large heart-shaped leaves and popcorn-like clusters of flowers has been a prominent feature in the yard of Jacksonville’s historic Beekman House Museum at 470 E. California Street. Also known as the Indian bean tree, the Catalpa was valued for its medicinal uses. Tea brewed from its bark was used as an antiseptic to treat snake bites and whooping cough. A light sedative could be made from the flowers and seed pods, and the flowers were used for treating asthma. The leaves could also be turned into a poultice for treating wounds. However, prior to the days of indoor plumbing, the large, soft Catalpa leaves may have also been a welcome alternative to the Sears