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Staphylea trifolia (American bladdernut)
Makin, Julie

Staphylea trifolia

Staphylea trifolia L.

American Bladdernut

Staphyleaceae (Bladdernut Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

American bladdernut is a large, suckering, deciduous shrub or small tree, 8-15 ft. tall. Landscape attributes include: drooping clusters of cream, bell-shaped flowers; attractive, dark-green, trifoliate leaves; greenish bark textured with white cracks; and interesting fruit. The fruit, which changes from green to yellow to brown, is a three-chambered bladder.


From the Image Gallery

31 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Trifoliate
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 15 feet tall.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Reddish brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: Que. to MN, s. to FL, AR, e. OK & e. KS; generally absent from the Appalacians
Native Habitat: Moist, deep woods; thickets; floodplain woods

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained sandy or silty loams.
Conditions Comments: Bladdernut is insect and disease resistant. It tolerates a wide variety of soils.


Description: Softwood and hardwood cuttings root easily. Can also be grown from seed.
Seed Collection: Do not allow seeds to dry out before stratification.
Seed Treatment: Seeds apparently posses a double dormancy. Three months warm followed by three months at 40 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Michigan native plants for shady, low traffic area
May 10, 2006
Hello, I am looking for a recommendation for a Michigan native groundcover. I live adjacent to the Rouge River watershed and want to buy the right thing. The location is shady, infrequently walked ...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

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Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Staphylea trifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Staphylea trifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Staphylea trifolia


Record Modified: 2022-10-11
Research By: TWC Staff

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