Bladdernut, Staphylea trifolia
Staphylaceae or Bladdernut Family


Shrub or small tree. Leaves opposite each other, with 3 leaflets, finely toothed, on long leafstalks. Flowers small, white, with green stripes, barrel-shaped, in drooping clusters in spring. Fruits 3-sided, inflated, papery balloons, green turning brown, containing brown nut-like seeds. The flowers last only a short time, but the fruits may persist over the winter into the next spring.

Native of the midwest and eastern US. In Virginia common at lower altittudes in the mountains. Occasional in Wildwood.

Easily identified if the fuits are present. If no fruits, identification is still easy as no other shrub has opposite 3-part leaves. Hoptree leaves look very similar, but do not have fine teeth and are not opposite but alternate. Could also be mistaken for poison ivy, but that plant is a climbing vine and has alternate leaves.

Fruit from side
Flowers   Fruit from below

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