Staphylea trifolia, called American bladdernut, is a fast-growing, suckering, eastern native large shrub or small tree that commonly occurs in bottomlands, woodland thickets and moist soils along streams throughout the east. It establishes dense colonies in the wild where it is most often seen in a shrubby form. Typically grows 10-15' tall (less frequently to 25'). Compound, trifoliate (three-parted), dark green leaves (each ovate leaflet to 4" long). White, bell-shaped flowers in drooping clusters appear in spring. Flowers give way to inflated, bladder-like, egg-shaped, papery seed capsules (1-2" long) which mature in late summer and often persist into early winter. Seed capsules add interest to dried flower arrangements.
It is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. While tolerating a wide variety of soils, it prefers moist soils. We have seen it growing around rocky springs.
The genus name comes from the Greek name staphyle meaning a cluster from the arrangement of the flowers.
There are no serious insect or disease problems.
Ideal for native plant gardens, naturalized areas, shade gardens or woodland.
Text Adapted from: Missouri Botanic Garden PlantFinder
Photos Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder