Open the Advanced Search

Bladder Senna

Colutea arborescens

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Broad Bean, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Crown Vetch, Dragon's Teeth, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Lupin, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Greenweed, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Norfolk Everlasting Pea, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Red Clover, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spotted Medick, Spring Vetch, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Deciduous shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
3 metres tall
Gardens, grassland, parks, scrub, wasteland, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Yellow pea-like flowers which are sometimes streaked red (if orange then the tree may be a hybrid with Colutea orientalis). The flowers appear in short-stalked spikes. Each spike consists of 2 to 6 flowers. Each flower measures around 2cm across. Pollinated by bees.
Papery inflated pea-like pods, up to 8cm long. Many-seeded. The seeds ripen in September and October.
Pale green, pinnate leaves which alternate along the branches. Oval leaflets. Frequent in gardens and occasionally seen naturalised elsewhere.
Other Names:
Bladder-senna, Common Bladder Senna, Tree Colutea.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Colutea arborescens, also known as Bladder Senna, is a deciduous shrub that is native to Southern Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. The plant typically grows to be about 2-3 meters tall and has pinnate leaves and small, yellow or orange-yellow flowers that grow in clusters. The plant is known for its inflated, bladder-like seed pods, which give the plant its common name. It is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens, and it is known for its medicinal properties, in traditional medicine it is used as a treatment for various ailments, including skin conditions, wound healing and respiratory issues.


Bladder Senna, scientifically known as Colutea arborescens, is a small, deciduous shrub native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the Fabaceae family, commonly referred to as the pea or legume family. This plant is popular for its ornamental features, such as its attractive yellow flowers and striking seed pods, as well as its medicinal properties.

Appearance and Characteristics: Bladder Senna can grow up to 6-10 feet tall and equally as wide, with a rounded shape and a somewhat open habit. It has a woody stem and branches, with bright green leaves that are divided into small, oval-shaped leaflets. In late spring to early summer, the shrub produces clusters of small, yellow pea-like flowers that grow on the tips of the branches. After the flowers fade, the plant produces large, inflated seed pods that turn from green to reddish-brown as they mature. These pods are the most distinctive feature of Bladder Senna, and they give the plant its common name.

Cultivation and Care: Bladder Senna is a hardy plant that is relatively easy to grow and care for. It thrives in well-drained soil and prefers full sun to partial shade. The plant can withstand drought conditions and requires minimal water once established. Pruning is generally not necessary, but if the shrub becomes too dense, it can be trimmed back in late winter to early spring to maintain its shape.

Medicinal Uses: Bladder Senna has a long history of medicinal use. Its seeds and leaves contain various bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, alkaloids, and saponins, that have been found to have diuretic, laxative, and anti-inflammatory properties. In traditional medicine, Bladder Senna has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including urinary tract infections, constipation, and rheumatism. However, it is important to note that the plant can be toxic in large quantities and should not be used without the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Conclusion: Bladder Senna is a beautiful and versatile shrub that can be an excellent addition to any garden. It offers not only ornamental value but also potential health benefits. However, as with any plant, it is important to understand its properties and use it with caution. If you are considering adding Bladder Senna to your garden or using it for medicinal purposes, be sure to do your research and seek the advice of a professional.

More Information about Bladder Senna

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal properties, Bladder Senna also has cultural significance. It has been used in traditional medicine and folklore in the Mediterranean region for centuries. In some cultures, the plant is associated with good luck and is believed to have protective powers. For example, in some parts of Greece, it is customary to hang Bladder Senna branches outside the house to ward off the evil eye.

Bladder Senna is also important for wildlife. The plant is a source of food for various insects, including bees and butterflies, and its seeds are a valuable food source for birds. In addition, the plant's nitrogen-fixing properties help improve soil fertility and promote the growth of other plants in the surrounding area.

It is worth noting that Bladder Senna is considered an invasive species in some regions, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, where it has the potential to displace native vegetation. As such, it is important to research local regulations and consider the potential impact of introducing this plant to a new environment before planting it.

Overall, Bladder Senna is a fascinating plant with a rich history and multiple uses. Whether you are looking to add an attractive shrub to your garden, explore traditional medicine practices, or support local wildlife, Bladder Senna is a plant worth considering.

Bladder Senna is also used in landscaping due to its aesthetic appeal. Its bright yellow flowers and unusual seed pods make it a popular choice for ornamental gardens and as a specimen plant. In addition, it can be used as a hedgerow or border plant, providing privacy and a natural barrier.

Propagation of Bladder Senna is relatively easy. It can be grown from seed or cuttings, and it readily self-seeds in favorable conditions. Seeds can be collected from the plant after the seed pods have turned brown and matured. To propagate the plant from cuttings, take a 6-inch cutting in late summer and plant it in well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist and protect the cutting from direct sunlight until it roots.

In terms of maintenance, Bladder Senna is generally a low-maintenance plant. It is relatively pest-resistant and can tolerate drought and poor soil conditions. However, it may benefit from occasional pruning to promote bushy growth and improve its overall appearance.

In conclusion, Bladder Senna is a versatile and fascinating plant that offers multiple benefits. Its ornamental features, medicinal properties, cultural significance, and wildlife support make it a valuable addition to any garden or landscape. However, it is important to understand its properties and use it responsibly to avoid potential negative impacts on the environment.


Bladder Senna filmed at Lytham St. Anne's in Lancashire on the 12th June 2023.


Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map