Our local bladderpod

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Kelaidis
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Joined: 2010-02-03
Our local bladderpod

What a horrible name for a plant! Physaria bellii is found only in a narrow band of shale along the base of the Front Range just west of Denver northward to the Wyoming border--roughly a hundred miles. Although occasionally impacted by development, I suspect this has probably increased its range thanks to people disturbing more ground.

There are several pictures of a trough in the Wildflowers Treasures trough plaza featuring the Niobrara shale area near Boulder where it's most abundant: you can see that it's almost more decorative in seed than in flower...

There is another shot of it in our Endangered Species garden where it's been busy spreading voraciously. It would be a great Physaria for any well drained, hot spot.

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

I agree - "bladderpod" is not a name that will necessarily entice many to grow it.  If ever a common name needed a makeover...

Our local (and only) species is Physaria didymocarpa, which grows from the montane gravel floodplains up to the scree-covered alpine ridges (the link being a rocky substrate, it seems).  The species name refers to the 2-lobed bladders formed by the inflated seedpods.  It is a plant of perhaps somewhat modest charms, but one that I enjoy seeing and growing.

Here it is in the wild on a windswept alpine ridge (#1) - an elegant silver rosette - and a much larger specimen from the front yard (#2-4), that put on a good show last summer (though I somehow managed to miss all the times when the flowers were fully open), and then burdened itself with an amazing mass of seedpods.

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Skulski wrote:

I agree - "bladderpod" is not a name that will necessarily entice many to grow it.  If ever a common name needed a makeover...

But the name "bladderpod" is so perfectly descriptive, with those ornamental 2-lobed bladders.

When I see the foliage of Physaria, such as in you P. didymocarpa, instantly I "see" Eriogonum, somehow those silvery spoon-shaped leaves remind me of western buckwheats.  I love the last "bladder view" photo.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Kelaidis
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Joined: 2010-02-03

The resemblance to buckwheats is superficial, Mark: bubblepods (trying out some new common names here) are more reminiscent of Echeverias to me, since their starfish rosettes are what really stand out. But their flannely textures and rough leaves are somehow not like any other plant. Of course, eriogonums and pea-pods (another try) grow together throughout the northern, southern Rockies and much of the Colorado plateau: of course each "pseudo-alpine" bunnery where you find them has a different mix of fleabane/buckwheat/penstemon/starfish plant (third feeble attempt to supplant the established common name..).

I enjoyed the wild pix of Physaria didymocarpa, which I have grown once or twice: I don't know if it was the clone, but my original plant of this was stunningly beautiful and I've missed it ever since: it has a wide range--maybe the widest--of the genus. Botanists have carved up much of the southern variants into new species in Wyoming: never met a physaria I didn't love.

The queen of the genus is undoubtedly Physaria alpina from central Colorado which will be at many stops during this summer's NARGS conference (a bit of publicizing here...). And naturally I don't have a digital image to flog...

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Here is Physaria didymocarpa, again, in bloom this year in the front yard:

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Kelaidis
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Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-03

I was very impressed with P. didymocarpa when I grew it. We have buckets of P. bellii here in Denver (a much rarer plant in nature): how about swapping some seed? It should be ripe for us in the next few weeks...

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Yes, Panayoti, I would love to trade!  It will take longer here for the seeds to ripen, but by then I may have some other interesting things collected.

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Panayoti, can you venture a guess on this one? Growing in the new crevice garden in reasonably limey mix, flowers were yellow - label lost.

Kelaidis
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Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-03

Can't believe it's taken me so long to respond to this, Ann: Haven't been on the forums much (we had a dynamite summer for the mountains and I've been traveling a lot this fall)...

Your Physaria is amazing! It is a weirdie: P. brassicoides or P. dornii. Something unusual. Very cool!

Hope all is well. Have a great New Year!

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Thanks so much for the i.d., Panayoti.  I would have grown it from seed and it's amazing what will come from a seed pack.  I was probably trying to get Physaria alpina or my favorite P.jonesii v lutea.  When I get seedlings that are obviously not what the seed label says, they get put into the garden without a label.  I'm always hoping an expert will come through and say: "of course, that's such and such without a doubt".  Doesn't usually happen.  This one has survived several years in the newest crevice garden at the top of the cliff, which is full sun pretty much all day long.  Joe and I leave Monday for Patagonia on Ger van den Beuken's trip.  I'm very excited.

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Spiegel wrote:

  Joe and I leave Monday for Patagonia on Ger van den Beuken's trip.  I'm very excited.

Ann, how fantastic, have a great trip!  We hope to see lots of plant photos of fabulous Patagonian plants here on the forum upon your return.  And may the antlered rats be kept at bay while you're away.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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