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American Bladdernut Staphylea trifolia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
staf-FY-lee-a try-FOH-lee-a
Description

Staphylea trifolia, or American Bladdernut, is a fast-growing, upright, deciduous, perennial, flowering shrub or small tree that can attain a height and width of 15 feet. In nature, it can be found growing in nutrient-rich bottomland forests, extending upslope over calcareous or mafic rocks. It is heavily branched when mature and produces suckers to reproduce. It is commonly found in bottomlands, woodland thickets and moist soils along streams where it establishes dense, shrubby, colonies in the wild. The root system can form clonal offsets from underground runners. 

American Bladdernut grows easily in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. It tolerates a wide variety of soils, including clay, but prefers a moist, rich loamy soil in full sun or semi-shade. In the wild, this is a fast-growing but short-lived tree. The plants flower best in years that follow hot summers.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

No serious insect or disease problems. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Sensitive to heat, drought, and soil compaction. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#full sun#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#partial sun#showy#green flowers#piedmont#native shrub#woody#spring flowers#fall interest#flowering tree#coastal#moist soil#food source#fast growing#NC native#full sun flowers#flowering shrub#full sunlight#native garden#mountains#coastal plant#green fruits#fall fruits#sunshine#coast#coastal areas#spring interest#Braham Arboretum#late spring flowers#short lifespan#mid-spring flowers#food source fall#food source nectar#food source pollen#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#fruits#native#food source hard mast fruit#fruits early fall#fruit#part sun#flood tolerant#flowering#flower#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#full sun#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#partial sun#showy#green flowers#piedmont#native shrub#woody#spring flowers#fall interest#flowering tree#coastal#moist soil#food source#fast growing#NC native#full sun flowers#flowering shrub#full sunlight#native garden#mountains#coastal plant#green fruits#fall fruits#sunshine#coast#coastal areas#spring interest#Braham Arboretum#late spring flowers#short lifespan#mid-spring flowers#food source fall#food source nectar#food source pollen#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#fruits#native#food source hard mast fruit#fruits early fall#fruit#part sun#flood tolerant#flowering#flower#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Staphylea
    Species:
    trifolia
    Family:
    Staphyleaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Seed capsules used in dried flower arrangements. Attractive native flowering shrub.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern United States
    Distribution:
    Eastern United States
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects enjoy the nectar from the flowers. Small mammals browse the foliage.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. The seed can be used in place of walnuts in making chocolate-chip cookies. A sweet edible oil is obtained from the seed used for cooking purposes.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Dense
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasional Flooding
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Flowers give way to inflated, bladder-like, egg-shaped, papery seed capsules (1 to 2 inches long) which mature in late summer and often persist into early winter. Seed capsules add interest to dried flower arrangements. This capsule is obovoid or ovoid in shape with 3-angular lobes. Immature capsules are green during the summer, but they become light brown during the fall. At this time, the seeds can be made to rattle inside their capsule; there is a single seed per cell. In North Carolina, the fruits are available from August to October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Colored Sepals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Greenish white, bell shaped flowers in nodding panicles that bloom in April and May. Drooping clusters of flowers develop from the axils of the compound leaves. Each flower is about 1/3 inch long, 1/4 inch across; it has 5 outer sepals, 5 inner petals, several stamens, and a pistil. Initially, both the sepals and petals are white; shortly later the sepals become light green or dull pink. The slender pedicels are a little longer than the flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Dark green, 2 to 4 inch, ttrifoliate (three-parted), leaves (each ovate leaflet to 4 inches long). Fall color is yellow. Each leaflet has a rounded to wedge-shaped bottom and tapers to a tip that is short and slender; the upper surface of each leaflet is medium to dark green and hairless, while the lower surface is light green and pubescent. The terminal leaflet has a stalk (or petiolule) up to 1" long, while the 2 lateral leaflets are nearly sessile.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The trunk and/or larger branches have bark that is mostly grey and rough-textured, while smaller branches have bark that is smooth with longitudinal streaks of black and light grey. Young twigs tend to be smooth and reddish brown.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Drought
    Dry Soil