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Colutea orientalis

Colutea orientalis
bladder senna
Colutea orientalis

Common name bladder senna
Family fabaceae
Life cycle shrub (Z5-7)
Flowers copper/yellow (autumn)
Size 6'
Light sun

Not sure about the species ID of this one - perhaps it should be classified as Colutea x media, whose description fits. For now, I'll leave it up under the name by which its seed was identified. It survived its first winter in our garden, and proceeded to grow into a large bushy plant in its second year. But it showed nothing but mid-green compound leaves through the season - until late October. I'd stopped actually looking for flowers, but I happened to walk by while collecting seed, and spotted some of the coppery orange buds. Further inspection also turned up some opened flowers, which are two-toned with yellow accents. In the following years, flowers appeared much earlier: by late May the shrub is ablaze. These flowers are followed by inflated seed pods, but these occur only sparsely on our plant, perhaps because it is not particularly self-fertile. I finally spotted a few in its fourth year of life.

bladder senna
Lots of flowers by late May/early June
Colutea orientalis
Almost comically balloonish pods

We left this plant behind in our Pennsylvania garden (and wish it well); we don't grow it in Houston.

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Seed-starting details for this plant

  1. Seed from '06 trade. Sandpapered, baggy 70F (8w; 50%G, 8d-7w). Several additional rounds of scarification were necessary to attain reasonable germination. Warmer conditions did not appear to aid germination
  2. Same seed as above. Sandpapered, soaked 1d, baggy 70F (6%G, 5d)

Germinated seeds prone to rotting - found that placing seeds above soil, with only radicle in soil, gave better results.

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