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Physospermum cornubiense

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Grassland, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, scrub, waterside, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Flowers appear in umbels of 2 to 5cm across.
The fruits are inflated and bladder-like in appearance.
A slightly hairy biennial with solid stems. The leaves are dark green and 2-trefoil at their bases. Higher up the stems, the leaves are 1-trefoil and undivided. Well-toothed leaflets.
Other Names:
Cornish Physospermum, Purple-flowered Physospermum.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Physospermum cornubiense, also known as Cornish physospermum or purple-flowered physospermum, is a perennial herb that is native to Europe. It is a member of the Apiaceae family and is closely related to other members of the Physospermum genus, such as cow parsley and hogweed. The plant is known for its purple flowers, which are borne in clusters on tall stems. It has fern-like leaves and grows to be about 1-2 feet tall. P. cornubiense is a hardy plant that is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but it prefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. It is often found growing in wooded areas, hedgerows, and along streambanks. The plant has a number of medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and skin irritation.


Bladder-seed (Physospermum cornubiense) is a flowering plant species belonging to the family Apiaceae. It is a herbaceous perennial plant native to Europe, particularly in the western parts of the continent. The plant is known for its bladder-like seed capsules, hence its common name "Bladder-seed."

Bladder-seed grows up to 40 cm tall, producing delicate umbels of small, white or light yellow flowers that bloom from June to August. The flowers are followed by the formation of bladder-like seed capsules, which can measure up to 1 cm in diameter. The plant's leaves are delicate, feathery, and green, and the plant has a fibrous root system.

Bladder-seed is an excellent plant for ornamental gardens, meadows, and wildflower gardens. The plant is low maintenance and thrives in a variety of soils and habitats, including damp or wet meadows, riverbanks, and marshy areas. Bladder-seed is also a favorite of pollinators, attracting a variety of insects, including bees, butterflies, and hoverflies.

The plant is also known for its medicinal properties. In traditional European medicine, the plant was used to treat a range of conditions, including digestive and respiratory problems. The plant's seeds and leaves contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, making it useful for treating digestive and respiratory conditions.

Bladder-seed is also a valuable plant for wildlife. The plant provides an important source of nectar and pollen for insects, as well as a source of seeds for birds. The bladder-like seed capsules are especially important for small mammals, such as mice and voles, who use the seeds as a food source.

Bladder-seed is not only an attractive plant, but it is also an environmentally important species. It is an indicator of healthy, diverse ecosystems and is a key component of the natural food chain. By planting Bladder-seed, you can help to conserve biodiversity and support the health of the local ecosystem.

In terms of cultivation, Bladder-seed is relatively easy to grow. The plant prefers damp or wet soils, but it will also grow in well-drained soils if they are kept consistently moist. Bladder-seed is hardy and can tolerate light frost, making it ideal for gardeners in temperate regions. It is important to note that Bladder-seed is not drought tolerant, and will require regular watering during dry spells.

When planting Bladder-seed, it is important to choose a sunny or partially shaded location. The plant will grow best in soils that are rich in organic matter and well-drained. To propagate Bladder-seed, you can collect and sow the seeds in the fall or divide the clumps of plants in the spring.

It is also important to note that Bladder-seed is not invasive and does not spread aggressively, making it a safe choice for gardeners who are concerned about plants taking over their garden. Instead, it forms clumps that can be easily maintained and controlled.

Bladder-seed can be used in a variety of ways in the garden. For example, it can be planted as a specimen plant in a sunny or partially shaded location, or it can be used in a wildflower garden to provide a source of nectar and pollen for insects. Bladder-seed is also well suited for use in wetland gardens or near streams and ponds, as it can tolerate damp soils.

In addition to its ornamental value, Bladder-seed also has potential for use in phytoremediation, which is the process of using plants to clean up contaminated soils. The plant has been shown to be effective in removing heavy metals from contaminated soils, making it a valuable tool for cleaning up contaminated sites.

In conclusion, Bladder-seed (Physospermum cornubiense) is a valuable plant that provides a range of benefits for gardeners, the environment, and wildlife. It is easy to grow, attractive, and not invasive, making it a safe and versatile choice for the garden. Whether you are planting Bladder-seed as a specimen plant, in a wildflower garden, or for phytoremediation, it is sure to provide beauty and value to your garden.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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