Staphylea colchica
Common Name: bladdernut 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Staphyleaceae
Native Range: Caucasus
Zone: 6 to 7
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Easily grown in evenly moist, rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in part shade. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 6, and should be sited in a protected location in the St. Louis area where some winter dieback may occur in harsh winters. Do not allow soils to dry out. Propagate by seeds, cuttings and suckers.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Staphlea colchica, commonly known as Caucasian bladdernut, is a tall, suckering, thicket-forming, deciduous shrub that typically grows to 10-15' tall and as wide. It is native to forests at elevations up to 4000' in the southern Caucasus mountains. Pinnate compound leaves have 3-5 ovate-oblong, hairless, green leaflets (each to 3 1/2" long) with fine serrate margins and glabrous glossy undersides. Leaves on flowering stems tend to have 3 leaflets, but all other leaves tend to have 5 leaflets. Bell-shaped, five-petaled, greenish-white flowers (each to 1/2" across) bloom in spring (May-June) in erect to nodding terminal panicles (to 4-5" long and as wide). Flowers have a pleasing fragrance which is reminiscent of orange blossoms. Flowers are followed by inflated, baggy, two- lobed to three-lobed fruits (seed pods to 3" wide) which are commonly characterized as being "bladder-like" in appearance, hence the common name of bladdernut. Each pod contains several hard rounded seeds. Pods are curiously attractive and remain visible on the shrub in summer and fall.

Genus name comes from the Greek name staphyle meaning a cluster from the arrangement of the flowers.

Specific epithet relates to the ancient Kingdom of Colchis located on the Black Sea near the southern edge of the Caucasus mountains (native habitat for this bladdernut). In Greek mythology, Jason and the Argonauts recovered the golden fleece at Colchis. The Colchis region today is largely a part of western Georgia.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf spot and twig blight may occur.

Garden Uses

Many gardeners consider this species and its varieties to be the most ornamentally attractive (flowers and fruits) of the bladdernuts. Best located in part shade areas of the landscape. Shrub borders. Woodland margins. Shade gardens. Naturalized areas. Informal screen/hedge.