Bladdernut, Staphylea trifolia, is a fairly common native shrub that no one has ever heard of. It grows in moist forest edges and along streams and most of the year is fairly plain but, if it should by chance grow with adequate sunlight in an exposed location where it can be seen, in spring it is covered in delicate hanging flowers. The flowers are mildly fragrant and quite showy. The attract a great many bees of many species as well as early season butterflies.
Bladdernut is rarely found for sale which is hard to understand. It is a native with few pests, adapted to most of the Eastern United States and southern Canada. In nature, it is a little ragged in form but, when cultivated and given full sunlight, it is full and lush and will produce many more flowers than in the wild. It will grow to 10′ or 15′ with time and is hardy in zones 3 to 8
Perhaps its name is the reason it is not more popular. Taxonomists came to America and found a vast array of new plants and had to give them names. There are related species around the world that were already known as Bladdernuts so it became the Three Leafed Bladdernut. It is the unique seed pod that gives it its unusual name. After bloom the seed pod forms. It is a sealed hollow 3 chambered capsule with several seeds. This stays a pleasant green through the summer adding texture to the shrub. Fall color is a pale yellow and freezing weather turns the pods an attractive dark brown. An interesting aside, The pods float and it seems that is its strategy for distributing seeds is by floating them away on spring floods.
Bladdernut is an attractive shrub year round. Beautiful flowers, pleasant green summer color, interesting seed pods and an interesting streaked bark in winter. Try Bladdernut, your bees will thank you.