Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Cardiospermum halicacabum L.
- Family: Soapberry (Sapindaceae)
- Flowering: August-September
- Field Marks: This distinctive viny species is recognized by its alternate, doubly ternately
compound leaves, its 4 unequally sized white petals, and its inflated, balloon-like fruits.
- Habitat: Moist soils along streams, roadsides, waste areas, and fields.
- Habit: Climbing herbaceous perennial.
- Stems: Slender, smooth or slightly hairy, bearing axillary tendrils.
- Leaves: Alternate, usually doubly ternately compound; leaflets ovate to oblong, pointed at the
tip, more or less tapering to the base, coarsely toothed or shallowly lobed, smooth or slightly
hairy, up to nearly 2 inches long, up to nearly 1 inch wide.
- Flowers: Few arranged at the tip of the tendril-bearing branchlets, up to 1/3 inch across.
- Sepals: 4, green, free from each other, of unequal size.
- Petals: 4, white, free from each other, of unequal size, up to 1/6 inch long.
- Stamens: 8, unequal in length.
- Pistils: Ovary superior; stigmas 3.
- Fruits: Capsules inflated, spherical to obovoid, up to 1 1/2 inches long, hairy, bearing half black
and half white, spherical seeds.
- Notes: This species, a native of tropical America, is often planted as an ornamental. It
occasionally escapes into moist disturbed sites.
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