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STAPHYLEA trifolia

Image of Staphylea trifolia

Jesse Saylor

Family

Staphyleaceae

Botanical Name

STAPHYLEA trifolia

Plant Common Name

American Bladdernut

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

American bladdernut is admirable because of its glossy, attractive, three-part leaves and curious-looking fruits. This variably medium to large shrub, rarely a small tree, is naturally found in moist-soil woodlands, especially along stream banks. It's native to southeastern North America, east of the Great Plains from Ontario to the Florida Panhandle. It attains an upright habit with somewhat spreading branches.

American bladdernut's bark is mainly smooth and a mottled blend of gray-tan and white. The dark green leaves emerge in spring, maturing into distinctly three-leaflet leaves. Each toothed leaflet is an attractively shaped oval-teardrop with pointed tip. Leaflet undersides are faintly hairy and lighter green. In mid-spring, pendent clusters of tiny white flowers dangle from the branches. After pollination, the bladder-like fruits form. They look somewhat like three-lobed eggs or small inflated air bags. They change from light green to tan by early winter. The shrub's foliage only becomes a pale yellow before dropping away.

Grow American bladdernut in practically any well-drained soil, but best performance occurs in evenly moist, humusy ground. This shrub is fast growing and may develop into a small thicket. Grow it in partial to full shade; in cooler summer regions, partial sun is okay. American bladdernut is a pretty addition to a woodland garden or shaded mixed border. Allow it to naturalize on slopes above streams or lakes under the protective covering of larger shade trees. The foliage is always pretty to view up close, and the bladder-like fruits always pique the curiosity of passers-by.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Shade, Full Shade

  • Height

    10'-20' / 3.0m - 6.1m

  • Width

    10'-20' / 3.0m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Light Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Yellow

  • Bark Color

    White, Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Bark Color Modifier

    Multi-Color, Spotted/Mottled

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes