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Products > Peritoma arborea
Peritoma arborea - Bladderpod
Image of Peritoma arborea
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Cleomaceae (formerly Capparaceae)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Year-round
Fragrant Flowers: Yes
Synonyms: [Isomeris arborea, Cleomella arborea]
Height: 4-5 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 0-10 F
Peritoma arborea (Bladderpod) - A fast growing evergreen mounding shrub typically 4 to 5 feet tall by slightly wider with densely branching stems holding three 1 1/2 inch long grey-green leaf-like narrowly oval leaflets that have a pungent salty aroma likened to burnt popcorn or the smell of bell peppers and onions cooking. The yellow flowers produced in clusters year-round with a peak in winter and spring and are unique and very attractive with 4 yellow petals and long exerted yellow stamens surrounding a protruding style with the developing fruit held at its tip which inflates and elongates to 2 to 3 inches long and is at first green but later turns a light translucent tan color and when fully dry the fruits resemble paper lanterns with dark seed visible inside that rattle about when shaken. This plant provides a year-round display with newly forming buds, flowers and developing fruit at all stages often all on display at the same time. Plant in full sun with good drainage and provide infrequent to no irrigation once established. Tolerates sea spray, saline and alkaline soils and is cold hardy to 0 F and useful in USDA Zones 7 and above. Cut back plants to the ground to rejuvenate should they get to large or unruly. This is a showy plant for dry gardens and is a great source of nectar for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies while also being resistant to predation by deer and rabbits. Peritoma arborea in spiderflower family (Cleomaceae), which previously was included in the Caper family, the Capparaceae and prior to that both families were included in the mustard family, the Brassicaceae. The name for the genus comes from the Greek words 'peri' meaning "around" and 'tome' or 'tomos' meaning "division", "section" or "to slice" with the combination meaning "cut-around" in reference either to the way the fruit dehisces or is descriptive of the circumscissile calyx base. The name was first published by in Augustin Pyramus de Candolle in 1824 but this California species was long considered a monotypic member of the genus Isomeris which came from the "Iso" means "equal", and "meris" means "part", referring to the stamens being of equal length. In the past it has also been known as Cleome isomeris and some current databases list this plant as Cleomella arborea but the authority on California native plants, the Jepson Manual of California Plants lists the current name as Peritoma arborea. The specific epithet is derived from Latin for "tree" and alludes to a tree-like habit of growth, though rarely does this shrub actually become so large. Besides bladderpod (sometimes listed as bladder pod) it is also known by the common names burrofat, California Cleome and bladderpod spiderflower. The cooked flowers are eaten and the pods are filled with large round seeds that are edible raw but a bit bitter but sweeten when boiled for about 15 minutes. The Diegueno American Indian tribe used the seeds and flowers for food and the flowers were eaten boiled or sunbaked by the Kawaiisu American Indians in the San Joaquin Valley. Our plants are grown from seed off a particularly showy and nearly continually flowering specimen in a garden on the Santa Barbara garden that was originally purchased at a Santa Barbara Botanic Garden plant sale. Carol Bornstein, the longtime director of horticulture at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and later director of the gardens at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History noted that in both gardens this plant was both very attractive and a magnet for hummingbirds and other insects. She also that the edible seed likely attracted other birds and animals as well. 

This information about Peritoma arborea displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.