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Physocarpus opulifolius USFWS.jpg
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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Physocarpus (Greek, physa, bladder, and karpos, fruit; alluding to the inflated capsules). Syn., Opulaster. Rosaceae, tribe Spiraeeae. Ninebark. Ornamental shrubs, grown for their white flowers, the attractive inflated pods and the bright green foliage.

Deciduous: bark peeling off in thin strips: lvs. alternate, petioled, stipulate, serrate and more or less lobed: fls. in umbel-like racemes; calyx-tube cup-shaped; sepals 5, valvate; petals white or rarely pinkish, spreading; stamens 20-40; pistils 1-5, more or less united at the base: follicles inflated, opening along both sutures; seeds 2-4, yellowish shining.—Thirteen species have been distinguished in N. Amer. and one in N. E. Asia. Formerly usually referred to Spiraea, from which it is easily distinguished by the stipulate lvs., by the inflated follicles and the long glossy seeds; sometimes united with Neillia, which differs chiefly in the not inflated pods dehiscent only along the ventral suture, the campanulate or tubular calyx-tube, and in the elongated inflorescence.

The ninebarks are hardy, small or medium-sized spreading or upright shrubs with usually 3-lobed leaves and with umbel-like heads of whitish or sometimes pinkish flowers appearing late in spring, and followed by clusters of small pods, inflated in some species and often assuming a bright red color late in summer. They are well adapted for shrubberies and grow in almost any soil. They propagate easily by either hardwood or greenwood cuttings, also by seeds.

P. capitatus, Kuntze (Spiraea capitata, Pursh. Opulaster capitatus, kuntze. S. opulifolia var. mollis, Torr. & Gray). Closely allied to O. opulifolia. To 20 f t. : lvs. somewhat larger, with serrate, more elongated lobes, tomentose beneath: pedicels and calyx tomentose. Ore. to Calif. P. malvaceus, Kuntze (Neillia malvacea, Greene. Opulaster pubescens, Rydb. Spiraea pauciflora, Nutt.). To 5 ft.: lvs. slightly 3-lobed, with crenately and obtusely toothed lobes, usually pubescent: corymbs rather few-fld.: pods 2-3, not inflated, tomentose, about as long as sepals. Wyo., Idaho. B.M. 7758 (as Neillia Torreyi).

Alfred Rehder. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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