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Colutea arborescens L.

Common Bladder Senna

Modern name

Colutea arborescens L.

A strong-growing, deciduous shrub up to 12 ft high, of bushy habit and copiously branched. Leaves 3 to 6 in. long; leaflets nine to thirteen, elliptic or broadly obovate with the apex notched, from 12 to 1 in. long, hairy beneath when young, becoming nearly or quite glabrous with age. Racemes axillary on the current season’s growth, produced successively as the branches extend; 112 to 4 in. long, carrying three to seven flowers towards the end. Flowers pea-shaped, yellow, 34 in. long, borne on a downy stalk 14 to 12 in. long; wing-petals rather shorter than the keel; calyx cup-shaped with triangular lobes. Pod inflated and bladder-like, about 3 in. long, 1 to 112 in. wide, pointed, many-seeded.

Native of the Mediterranean region and S.E. Europe; cultivated for at least three hundred years in England. Few introduced shrubs have made themselves so thoroughly at home as this. It has taken possession of some of the railway banks in the suburbs of London, and will, indeed, grow in almost any position not water-logged where it has sufficient light. Its accommodating nature has made it, perhaps, despised in gardens, but it is quite pretty when in full bloom, and it lasts more or less from June until the frosts come. The inflated pods, which explode with a sharp report when squeezed, make the shrub very attractive to children. A group of plants can be kept to a neat shape and convenient size by pruning back the shoots almost to the old wood every winter, the flowers being borne on the shoots of the year. The abundant seeds render its increase easy.

cv. ‘Bullata’. – A dwarf form of dense habit, whose five or seven leaflets are small, rounded, and somewhat bullate.

cv. ‘Crispa’. – Low-growing; leaves wavy at the margin. (Kirchner in Arb. Muscav., 1864).



Other species in the genus