Desert Bladderpod
Moapa Bladderpod

Lesquerella tenella
(Physaria tenella)

Lesquerella Physaria tenella Photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed near Robbin's Butte, Maricopa Co., Arizona. March 2008.

ANNUAL: Spring annual occasionally occurring in great abundance following winters with good rainfall. Most plants are less than 30 cm tall; their growth is upright with usually. a few branches.

FRUIT: A spherical pod on a gracefully curved peduncle. The pod has two chambers and there are usually. a few seeds in each chamber.

FLOWERS: Four relatively large, bright yellow to orangish petals subtended by four green sepals. Six stamens of two sizes.

RANGE: Frequent throughout the Sonoran Desert in western Arizona and ranging into the Mohave Desert of California. The very similar Gordon's Bladderpod (Physaria gordonii) ranges from eastern Maricopa County through Pima County and into the Chihuahuan Desert to the east. Rocky slopes, desert flats/pavements and along washes are the preferred habitats of both species.

LEAVES: Narrowly elliptic leaves are alternate on stems. Leaves and stems are covered with stylolite hairs that give a silvery appearance and a granular texture. Before flowering the plants grow close to the ground with many leaves in a rosette.


Brassicaceae -- Mustard Family

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Physaria tenella, photo © by Michael Plagens

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 30 May 2008,
updated 2 March 2016.