a-plant-a-day-7

(stinky) Bladderpod: Peritoma arborea, Cleomaceae (spiderflower family)

I didn't think I'd stumble across this one where I live since its upper elevation range just about caps off where my house sits. But snaking through Pipes Canyon on my way home from work, some newly budding, burnt yellow flowers caught my eye. Dangling from the bushes were fat, green pods, so I kind of got really excited and pulled over. As I approached the nearest bush, my sense of smell cerified that, indeed, stinky bladderpod is a bloom. 

This shrubby tree grows to be about human height, and bears trios of green leaves and deep yellow flower clusters at the terminus of the branches. Short-ish, bloated pale green pods hang visibly, and are almost hollow inside, save a few small seeds. The aroma is really special. It smells like burnt salt, maybe with a touch of jalapenos. (I don't know why all my books say it smells like dirty socks. I wish my socks smelled this good.) Probably due to the unique odor, this plant was not a favorite menu item for the Cahuilla Indains, although the plant grows abundantly in lower elevations, and several references mention that the pods were buried in a hole with hot stones and left to cook. I don't feel like digging a hole tonight, but I did pick a handful of the stinkers, so I'll get back to you on contemporary cooking methods.

At one time, bladderpod was classified in the caper family, but with the exponential advancement of technology, it's been found to be under the larger order of mustards, so now our now belong in the spiderflower family. Oh science.