AMERICAN BLADDERNUT
File Size: 37 KB
 
Staphylea trifolia  L.
Jefferson County, Kansas
Height: 4-15 feet
Family: Staphyleaceae - Bladderwort Family
Flowering Period:   March, April
Trunks: Bark gray-brown, smooth when young, flaky when old; branches few.
Twigs: Somewhat coarse, pliable, reddish-brown or greenish-brown; leaf scars hemispherical; buds reddish-brown.
Leaves: Opposite, 3-foliolate, deciduous; leaflets 3, oblong to elliptic or ovate, 1.6 to 3.2 inches long, .6 to 1.4 inches wide; upper surface green, glabrous; lower surface paler with fine, white hairs; margins finely toothed; tip tapering to point; leaf stalk 2.2 to 4 inches long; center leaflet stalk .4 to 1.2 inches long; lateral leaflet stalks nearly sessile.
Flowers: Cylindric; stalks 1/4 to 2/5 inch long; calyx bell-shaped, deeply 5-parted; lobes about 1/3 inch long, pale green or nearly white, erect; petals 5, narrow, spatulate, 1/3 to 2/5 inch long, erect, hairy inside; stamens 5, alternate with petals.
Fruit: Pods, in drooping clusters, inflated, bladder-like, 1.2 to 2 inches long, somewhat spherical, thin-walled, papery, yellowish-brown or greenish, 3-pointed; compartments 3; seeds 1-4 per compartment, oval, 1/4 inch long, light brown, smooth, glossy.
Habitat: Moist woods, along streams, thickets, or rocky, wooded hillsides; calcareous soils.
Distribution: East 1/3 of Kansas.
Uses: Native Americans steeped the powered bark and used the liquid as a wash for face sores and a wash to stop babies crying. A compound infusion made with the plant was used to treat rheumatism. The seeds were considered sacred and were used in rattles for medicine dances.
Comments: Forms thickets. Fruit observed in August but can remain on plant until winter. From Greek staphyle "bunch of grapes" alluding to the flower clusters.

American bladdernut inflorescence
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Jefferson County, Kansas
American bladdernut
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Jefferson County, Kansas
American bladdernut
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Jefferson County, Kansas
American bladdernut flowers
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Jefferson County, Kansas
American bladdernut leaf
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Jefferson County, Kansas
American bladdernut leaflets
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Jefferson County, Kansas