The rattlebush is a rank-growing, woody plant 2 to 10 feet
tall. It has many branches in the upper part, well separated,
with few leaves, giving it a rather spare appearance. The bark
is smooth, green to light brown. Its preferred habitat is wet
places as the name suggest; moist soils of ditches and frequently-inundated
meadows, as well as depressions and the open edges of lakes,
ponds and streams.
Leaves are alternate, 4 to 8 inches long on a short stem.
They are divided into 20 to 50 leaflets, 1/2l 1/2 inches
long and about 1/4 inch wide with no terminal leaflet.
Flowers are about 1/2 inch long, yellow, often streaked
with red and hang in clusters about 2 inches long, on a threadlike
stem about the same length. Each flower has 5 petals, the top
petal being longer than the others and standing erect. Flowers
occur in the summer.
Fruit is a pod. When mature they are loose in the pod and
rattle when shaken, suggesting the name rattlebush.
Of Interest: The species name is for Thomas Drummond, (ca.
1790-1835), naturalist, born in Scotland, around 1790.