Look for Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia) shrubs in front of you. They have leaves divided into three leaflets with finely toothed edges. The curious name comes from the strange-looking inflated, three-lobed, hanging fruit that are produced in late August. At first they are bright pale green and hidden in the foliage. During the fall, they ripen to brown and can hang on the shrub for more than a year. As the fruit ripens, the hard-coated seeds, the size of small peas, become loose inside and rattle around like a make-shift musical instrument. The natives of the Meskwaki Nation use the seeds in gourd rattles for dream and medicine dances.
Bladdernut is a typical shrub of floodplain woods of the Carolinian region of southwest Ontario. It can be found in Joany’s Woods between the base of the valley slope and the river. In spring look for clusters of small, delicate white to pale pink, bell-shaped hanging flowers that are visited by a large number of different insects. Bladdernut makes an attractive garden shrub, useful in border plantings and is said to be left alone by browsing White-tailed Deer.