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Peritoma Arborea

Plant Description

Category: Shrub

Origin: California and Baja California 

Evergreen: Yes

Flower Color: Yellow

Bloomtime: Year round, especially in Winter/Spring

Height: 4 ft.

Width: 4 ft.

Exposure: Full Sun

Drought Tolerant: Yes

Irrigation: Once established, very little water. 

Alternate Names: Spiderflower and Burro-fat

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Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea) is naturally at home on coastal desert hillsides, foothills and desert canyons. It also excels in its overall versatility.  It can be used as an informal hedge or screen.  It is considered a fire-retardant plant.  It can be used for irrigation control, soil retention and hillside stabilization on dry slopes and banks.  It is a source of pollen for bees, cover and shade for quail and other birds, seeds for ground foragers and nectar for hummingbirds and native bees. Harlequin beetles are especially attracted to the bladderpod and may live their entire lives on the leaves or pods.’  

The smell of the leaves rubbed together create an intriguing smell that some are repelled by and others imagine cooking onions and bell peppers. Bladderpod flowers and seeds are edible. The seeds come out of the pods like peas. They are bitter and likely you would want to cook them before eating to bring out their sweetness. The pods and seeds contain glucocapparin which can be irritating to the skin. Cooking destroys glucocapparin. 

Some Native Americans relished the seeds and flowers for food. The immature peas inside are fresh and juicy, and can be harvested like garden peas but should be eaten raw in moderation. They can be used as capers. The flowers are edible too, but they reportedly need to be cooked for four hours to remove bitterness and reveal their sweetness. The young pods taste similar to a very mild jalapeno pepper.

For Additional Information About this Plant

Key to Native Plant Symbols 

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