In the U.S. Midwest, various trees qualify as flowering species, producing flowers in the springtime that gradually change into the fruit of the tree. Among these is the pawpaw tree, a tree with maroon flowers and edible fruit. The northern catalpa is a flowering tree species with many intriguing features. Another flowering tree of the Midwest is the eastern wahoo.
The pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba) grows in moist soil beneath the shade of larger trees, reaching heights of 12 to 20 feet. The tree has a tropical appearance, with dark, shiny leaves as long as 12 inches and as wide as 6 inches. The pawpaw flower buds have a velvety texture and are dark brown, opening up between March and early May, depending on the weather of the region. The 2-inch-wide flowers hang upside-down from the branches and contain multiple ovaries that can produce several fruits. The pawpaw fruit is America’s biggest edible native fruit, weighing up to 1 lb. and measuring up to 6 inches. Pawpaw trees require partial shade in their developmental stage, as the young tree will not tolerate full sun, but the mature trees thrive in the sunlight. The best soil for a pawpaw is damp, rich and well-draining with a slight acidity, says the California Rare Fruit Growers website. Pawpaw trees can multiply through suckering, growing clones of themselves from their roots, meaning one tree has the ability to create a patch of pawpaws over time.
The eastern wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus) grows throughout the Midwest and is a member of the Bittersweet family. The tree is often no taller than a shrub and has a maximum size of around 25 feet. Eastern wahoo trees have thin, gray bark and serrated elliptical leaves about 4 1/2 inches in length; the leaves change to red or yellow in autumn. The flowers bloom on small branchlets in groups of between seven and 20. The flowers possess four purple-red petals and are only 1/3-inch wide. These flowers develop into seed capsule that only a few types of birds find appetizing, according to the Illinois Wildflowers website. The eastern wahoo is in bloom from the end of spring into the first weeks of summer. Light shade is necessary for the tree to flourish and it will grow best in moist, fertile ground. The flowers of an eastern wahoo attract various insects, especially various species of flies.
The Floridata website says that the range of the northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) more than likely was in the Midwest from Indiana to Arkansas but that the tree’s distribution broadened. The northern catalpa has many unique aspects, including its flowers. The catalpa can grow to 70 feet tall and has very large leaves shaped like a heart and as long as 1 foot. The flowers have a bell shape, are an attractive white with purple blotches and orange lines on their insides and have both male and female parts. The flowers are 2 inches wide and grow in long clusters, blooming around June. The fruit the flowers bear is a seedpod that can grow to 20 inches in length, hanging down from the tree like a giant bean. The northern catalpa needs full sun and adapts to grow in many types of soils. The species is not difficult to transplant successfully but due to the amount of litter it produces in the form of flowers, leaves, twigs and seedpods, you should place this tree in an open area by itself.