Physocarpus opulifolius (L.) Maxim.

  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Common name: common ninebark

    Shrub to 3 m (10 ft) tall. Crown widely spreading. Bark dark, peeling into strips. Twigs brown to yellowish, glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple; ovate-orbicular, 2.5-7.5 cm (1-3 in) long, with 3-5 obtuse to acute lobes; margins crenate or dentate; glabrous above, and mostly so beneath, dark green; cuneate, truncate, or cordate at base; petioles 1-2.5 cm (0.4-1 in) long with caducous stipules. Flowers in corymbs, glabrous to slightly pubescent; flowers numerous, 2.5-5 cm (1-2 in) wide, calyx campanulate, glabrous, with 5 sepals; petals 5, white; styles 5; stamens 30-40; flowers appear from May to July. Fruits follicles in clusters of 3-5, 6-12 mm (0.25-0.5 in) diameter, ovoid, shiny red, glabrous; fruits mature May to July.

    Distribution: Oklahoma, Kansas to Georgia and north to Quebec.
    Habitat : Habitat is usually moist, well drained soils along streams and rocky slopes.
    NWI status: UPL, FACW-
    Comments: Physocarpus means bladder fruit; opulifolius refers to a similarity in appearance of ninebark and Viburnum opulus leaves, an imported European ornamental shrub.
    Field identification: The two species of ninebark in Oklahoma are well separated geographically; mountain ninebark (P. monogynous) is found only in Cimarron County, common ninebark is known to occur in Adair County only. Also, mountain ninebark has pubescent carpels.
    Horticulture: Common ninebark is often grown for its dark foliage, clusters of white flowers in the spring and red fruits in the autumn. It can be propagated from hardwood cuttings or seeds, which require no treatment. Common ninebark is able to tolerate wet or dry and acid or alkaline conditions.
    Wildlife benefits: Common ninebark flowers are an excellent nectar source; the fruits are eaten by several species of birds.

    Distribution in Oklahoma:

    Last update: 9/15/99
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