Sunday, December 28, 2014


Peritoma arborea

There is a video on YouTube which posits that taxonomists, having no new plants to name, have begun to rename all of the plants with which we are familiar.  That obviously overstates the matter. But, as a non-botanist observer of the plant kingdom, I understand what they are saying. Bladderpod is a good example. 

When I first came upon this plant, in the late 1970s, it had the scientific name of Isomeris arborea (Nutt.). Then about December 1989 the name was changed to Cleome isomeris (Greene). And, in July 2010 it became Peritoma arborea (Nutt.). Also, it was moved from the Capparaceae (which includes capers) to a family named Cleomaceae (spiderflowers). Lastly, It has been divided into three varieties based on the shape of the fruit, with var. angustata having fusiform fruits, var. arborea having obovoid fruits, and var. globosa having spherical fruits. 

It occurs in varied habitats, found throughout the Califronia in Coastal Sage Scrub, Creosote Bush Scrub, and Joshua Tree Woodland. Which is to say, it ranges from the deserts to the Channel Islands. The plant is a branched shrub that can up to six feet in height. It has thin, evergreen leaves about half an inch to an inch long. Bladderpod will flower in any month of the year. This is not very common in our natives. The flowers, appearing as abundant inflorescences at the ends of the stem branches, are yellow with long stamens. The inflated bladder-like fruits give the plant its common name. Some say that the epithet “Isomeris” was a nod to the equal halves of these pods.

Bladderpod is generally described as ill-smelling. However, in my experience, rubbing a pod produces a scent much like that of bell pepper, which I like.

No comments: