The Bignonia Family

Trumpet Creeper Southern Catalpa Trumpet Creeper Southern Catalpa

What are they?

The Bignonia family is a group of mostly tropical, woody trees, shrubs and climbers, typified by having generally large and showy tubular flowers. A very few species are found in warm-temperate regions, while some species that are popular as garden plants are occasionally found naturalized in the wider countryside.

Where are they found?

Mostly plants of woodland and field edge, old fields and waste places.


An easy group in Cape May as there are not many species. Look for woody plants with showy, trumpet-shaped flowers.

Trumpet Creeper      Campsis radicans

A common and widespread species in all kinds of habitats where woody trees and shrubs grow. Flowers July to August. A vigorous vine, easily growing up to reach the canopy of forest trees. Stems can be surprisingly thick and have loose bark that peels off in rough strips. Though native here, it probably also occurs as an escape from cultivation, as this is a popular garden plant.
Trumpet Creeper Trumpet Creeper Trumpet Creeper Trumpet Creeper
Seed pods

Trumpet Creeper Trumpet Creeper
climbing stem
Winter twig

Southern Catalpa      Catalpa bignonioides

Although native to the USA, this species only occurs in New Jersey as an escape from cultivation. Young plants germinate readily in grassy and waste places. Flowers June to July. A very common garden plant which is popular as a shade tree thanks to its large leaves and broadly spreading branches. The long 'string beans' hang on the bare branches well into winter.
Southern Catalpa Southern Catalpa Southern Catalpa Southern Catalpa
Flower close-up

Southern Catalpa Southern Catalpa Southern Catalpa
Seed pods
Winter bud