American bladdernut

(Staphylea trifolia)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

American bladdernut

NatureServe

N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

Midwest

FAC - Facultative

Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative

Nativity

Native

 
Occurrence

 

 
Habitat

Moist. Streambanks, river banks, floodplain forests, wooded hillsides. Partial sun to light shade.

 
Flowering

Early May to late May

     
Flower Color

White

     
Height

6 to 15

     

Identification

This is a small, branching shrub, or rarely a small tree, that rises on 1 or more stems. It can be 6 to 15 tall and up to 2 in diameter at breast height. The root system produces multiple runners that send up additional stems, occasionally forming colonies.

The trunk is occasionally branched, less so in the shade.

The bark on mature stems is grayish-brown with prominent white fissures. On smaller stems the bark is smooth.

First-year twigs are slender, flexible, green, and hairless. Second-year twigs are brown and hairless. After 2 to 4 years the twigs develop whitish lenticels. The pith is white. The leaf scars are almost perfectly round. The upper margin is flat or almost flat and has a dense ridge of tan, velvety hairs. There are numerous bundle scars that are close together forming an ellipse. There is no terminal bud. Lateral buds are reddish-brown, egg-shaped, smooth, and sometimes stalked.

The leaves are opposite, deciduous, and divided into 3 leaflets. They are on 1½ to 4¾ long, sparsely hairy or hairless leaf stalks.

The leaflets are egg-shaped to elliptical, 2 to 4 long, and 1¼ to 2 wide. The terminal leaflet is on a to 13 16 long leaflet stalk. The lateral leaflets are nearly stalkless. The leaflet blades are tapered at the base and abruptly tapered to a point at the tip with concave margins along the tip. The upper surface is dark green and hairless or sparsely hairy along the veins. The lower surface is pale green and covered with fine, white hairs. The margins are finely toothed.

The inflorescence is a drooping cluster of 5 to 12 flowers at the end of the previous year’s twig. The flowers are on jointed, ¼ to 9 16 long stalks.

Each flower is bell-shaped and ¼ to long. There are 5 oblong, whitish, 3 16 to 5 16 long sepals, 5 narrowly egg-shaped, whitish, ¼ to long petals, and 5 stamens with yellowish-orange anthers. The stamens barely extend beyond the petals.

The fruit is an inflated, bladder-like capsule containing 1 to 4 pale brown, shiny seeds. The capsule is papery, 1¼ to 2 long, and ¾ to 1½ in diameter. At the base of the capsule are 3 downward-pointing lobes. At maturity the seeds become loose and can be made to rattle by shaking the capsule.

 
Similar
Species

 


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 28.

Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Staphyleaceae (bladdernut)

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

American bladdernut

bladdernut


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Lenticel

A corky, round or stripe-like, usually raised, pore-like opening in bark that allows for gas exchange.

 

Pith

The spongy cells in the center of the stem.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

       

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Plant

  American bladdernut   American bladdernut
       

Inflorescence

  American bladdernut   American bladdernut
       

Leaves

  American bladdernut   American bladdernut
       

Immature Fruit

  American bladdernut   American bladdernut
       

Ripe Fruit

  American bladdernut   American bladdernut
       
  American bladdernut    
       

Branchlets

  American bladdernut   American bladdernut
       

Bark

  American bladdernut    
       
       

 

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