Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
We have only three species of bladderpod in North Dakota. The plant depicted here occurs mostly in the western and northern parts of the state. Overall, the range of northern bladderpod is small. Plants have been collected only from Manitoba and Saskatchewan south to Nebraska and Wyoming at elevations under 7,000 ft.
Northern bladderpod grows as an annual or short-lived perennial from a branched, persistent base (caudex). The usually unbranched stems are about four to eight inches long and can be prostrate or erect. Basal leaves are about 1-2 inches long and 3/8-inch wide; stem leaves are shorter and narrower. All are gray from a dense cover of short, star-shaped hairs. Dozens of pale-yellow flowers about 3/8-inch long grow on slender stalks along the upper branches. Flowers mature into oval pods about 1/4-inch long filled with reddish brown seeds.
Like the other members of this genus, these dry, rather wiry plants seems little affected by cattle grazing. Plants grow best on native grassland in dry sands or gravels.
Bladderpods are members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae) which has been developed into hundreds of ornamentals, and food plants such as cauliflower, cress, radish, kohlrabi, turnip, and rutabaga. Brassica is the Latin name of the cabbage. The genus was named in honor of the early bryologist and paleobotanist Leo Lesquereux. The specific epithet arenosa means "in sand" in botanical Latin in reference to the preferred soil type. Northern bladderpod was first described for science under another genus by the early Scottish biologist attached to the Franklin Expedition Sir John Richardson (1787-1865). The plant was placed in its currently accepted taxonomic position by the Swedish born American botanist Per Axel Rydberg (1860-1931).