Ninebark

Physocarpus opulifolius                 

Common Name: Ninebark

  • A tall shrub with shredded bark.
  • It can grow anywhere from 3 feet to 10 feet when mature.
  • Flowers are white or pinkish white and bloom in June and July.
  • The leaves look like small maple tree leaves, but have alternating branches and shredded bark.

Native or Invasive: Native shrub

Characteristics: A tall, much-branched shrub with shredded bark and tiny clusters of seeds in papery follicles. The peeling is especially obvious when the older stems are visible behind the tangle of young stems and leaves. The flowers are small, with five petals. Each follicle that forms is less than an inch long and many can be found clustered together. The clusters overwinter and, toward the end of winter, they split and spill their hard, brown seeds on the snow or mud. It can be found throughout the Great Lakes region and from Quebec to Arkansas.

Habitat: Sandy or gravelly shores.

Fun Fact: The name of the plant comes from the peeling of the bark, although there is no specific number of strips into which it actually peels.

Ethnobotanical Uses: It has been used to induce vomiting after poisoning. Also, used to alleviate constipation and to lessen the pain of boils, burns and rheumatism.

Adapted from Guide to Great Lakes Coastal Plants, by Ellen Elliott Weatherbee, University of Michigan Press.