As we stroll along woody stream banks, we may happen to see a shade-loving Bladder Nut (Staphylea trifolia). This is a shrub or small tree (up to 5 meters high) whose fruits are inflated papery capsules. Bladder Nut flowers are clustered at the end of twigs and appear in April-May, fruiting in September-October.
Any outdoor “nature detective” would be gratified as to the distinct features exhibited by this species. Bladder Nut trees have leaves with three fine-toothed leaflets; the branches of older trees have bark streaked with white. There is no other such tree found within the pages of my tree identification books. It may be just a touch of bravado, but I seem unable to dismiss my feelings of satisfaction, having classified this small tree with a trace of certainty.
Copyright © 2003 William T. Hathaway.