Today’s entry was written by Katherine.
Colutea arborescens grows to be 1-2m in stem height, with bronze coloured bark and yellow flowers. The species blooms in the late spring and early summer, while the fruits develop in the summer. Fruits are brown or purplish, 2 to 3cm long, and dry into papery pods with 3 to 10 olive, brown or black seeds. According to Plants For A Future, the seeds are also poisonous, though the USDA lists the species as not toxic.
The genus name for Colutea arborescens comes from the Greek word kolutea which was used in antiquity for this group of plants, and the Latin word arboresco meaning “woody or tree-like” (literally to become a tree).
Colutea arborescens is commonly known as bladder senna, however they are not the real “senna” which refers to a genus in the same family; Fabaceae (Senna). Even bladder senna is used multiple times as a common name; native to Australia, the purple-flowered Swainsona colutoides, is also known by this moniker.
Colutea arborescens is used for ornamental purposes. The pods are used in dried arrangements, while the trees are cultivated for landscaping. Plants are also used for erosion control and as a revegetator in land reclamation, which is why in California, for instance, naturalized plants may be found in disturbed areas. Colutea arborescens has been known on occasion to become weedy in areas of cultivation.