Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
We have only three species of bladderpod in North Dakota. The one depicted occurs statewide and is by far the most common. This bladderpod occurs from Illinois to Montana southward to Arizona.
Louisiana bladderpod usually is about four to eight inches tall, but robust specimens almost a foot and a half tall are sometimes encountered. The many slender branches curve outward and upward from the crown of a heavy perennial taproot. The narrow leaves and stems are gray because of a dense layer of star-shaped hairs. Dozens of small, pale-yellow or purple-tinged flowers grow on slender stalks at the tips of the branches. Flowers mature into small round pods that are hollow when dry.
This bladderpod is little affected by cattle grazing. The plant can be found on almost any native prairie, but seems to thrive best on dry, sandy or clayey soils.
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 ludoviciana means "of old Louisiana" (referring to the Purchase) in botanical Latin. This bladderpod was first described for science by the early botanist Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859) who visited what now is North Dakota in 1811.