Caragana arborescens (Siberian Peashrub)
|Also known as:
|Siberian Pea Tree
|part shade, sun; roadsides, forest edges, open woods, urban landscapes; planted as a windbreak
|May - June
|6 to 18 feet
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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1 to 5 long-stalked flowers bundled in leaf axils of the numerous lateral branchlets. Flowers are yellow, about ¾ inch long, pea-shaped, the upper petal (standard) broad, mostly ascending, the sides often curled back, the 2 lateral petals (wings) broad and much longer than the lower petal (keel). The calyx surrounding the base of the flower is tubular, about 1/3 the length of the flower, silky hairy, with 5 small triangular lobes. Stalks are ¾ to 2 inches long and silky hairy. Flowers are fragrant.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are compound with 8 to 12 leaflets, lack a terminal leaflet, 3 to 5 inches long, alternate or whorled at the tips of branches and lateral branchlets. Leaflets are ½ to 1 inch long, generally elliptic, rounded at the tip with a minute sharp point at the apex (mucronate), toothless and stalkless. Surfaces and leaf stalks are silky hairy when young, becoming smooth with age, the upper leaf surface bright to dark green, the lower surface paler. At the base of the leaf node is often a pair of spine-like appendages (stipules) up to 3/8 inch long. New branches are smooth and shiny, olive green to yellowish brown with older bark darker gray. Stems are usually multiple from the base with branches and leaves all the way to the base.
Fruit is a slender, straight, bean-like pod 1 to 2 inches long that ripens from green to yellow to brown and contains 3 to 6 reddish-brown seeds. When mature the pod bursts open, flinging the seeds a few feet from the mother plant, then curls up and persists on the branch.
Siberian Peashrub is a shrub or small tree that was commonly planted as a windbreak, for wildlife, and as an ornamental in landscapes, then escaped cultivation and is now considered invasive in many locations, including Minnesota and Wisconsin. While not as problematic or widespread as buckthorn, it does establish itself in forests, woodland edges, savannas and roadsides. It is much more widespread in Minnesota than the distribution maps indicate, since planted populations are not included and the distinction between planted and escaped populations can be ambiguous. You may even have spotted it in campgrounds and trail edges in some of our state parks. It tolerates a wide range of soil and moisture conditions and several cultivars are available in the nursery trade. Siberian Peashrub is easy to identify from the abundant yellow flowers and bean-like fruits, compound leaves that lack a terminal leaflet, and the spine-like stipules at leaf nodes.
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- flowering Siberian Peashrub
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?