Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia) might be the shrub for you! It’s beautiful and thrives in full shade, although it can tolerate up to four hours of sunlight.
It gets about 10 feet tall and at least as wide, and its showy, bell-like flowers bloom in the spring.
After the flowers come the papery seed capsules that look a bit like Chinese lanterns. They’re an inch or two and last through early winter.
Here’s the topper: Bladdernut has a “very high” pollinator value, according to the EPA, attracting butterflies and native bees.
Other good options:
Snowberry -- full sun to part shade
2-to 5-foot thicket
Large, snow-white berries
Moist or dry
Buttonbush (Part shade, shade)
Summer flowers look like pin cushions
Summersweet (full sun, part shade, shade)
Narrow, 6-12-foot shrub
Fragrant summer flowers; outstanding fall color
Ninebark (sun, part shade, shade)
3-10 foot mound-shaped shrub
Late spring flowers, exfoliating bark, yellow fall color
Dry or moist
To round out, and layer, your shade garden, add cardinal flower , Christmas fern (evergreen), foamflower and Indian pink. Wild ginger makes a great ground cover!
Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden. Photos: Shutterstock.