Catawba or Catalpa?

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Dr. Goodword
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Catawba or Catalpa?

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:28 pm

Judith Hanlon sent me an interesting question last month: “Is it “catalpa or “catawba”? I’ve heard both, and seen both in print (gardening or fishing references), but “catawba” isn’t in any dictionary. Should it be?”

Go to the Language Blog to see how I responded.
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Re: Catawba or Catalpa?

Postby Slava » Fri Sep 24, 2021 5:32 pm

I was about to reply without reading the linked article. It says what I would have said, only in more detail. The two words are different things.
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Re: Catawba or Catalpa?

Postby bbeeton » Mon May 23, 2022 10:49 am

A few additions to the good Doctor's essay.

Catawba wines are well represented among the products of the Finger Lakes area of New York. Not as highly valued as those made from the more "traditional" European grapes, but enjoyable nonetheless.

I learned the local name "cigar tree" for the catalpa growing up in Baltimore. I didn't learn the name catalpa until much more recently; we have one in our back yard here in Rhode Island. No catalpa worms though. (Fishing worms around here tend to be "night crawlers".) But, until the tree was trimmed after a windstorm, it was ground zero for a neighborhood woodpecker's drumming, which was always a welcome harbinger of spring. (And I do miss that!) The catalpa is considered a "trash tree" or weed in this area, and can be found on stream banks and similar environments. As far as I know, it's not planted intentionally, but makes its own way.

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