Monday, June 21, 2010

Paperbag Bush or Mexican Bladder Sage

Paperbag bush, also known as Mexican bladdersage and bladdersage (Salazaria mexicana)
is member of the mint family, the only member of its genus, and is found in Southern California, southern Nevada, extreme southwestern Utah, western and mid-Arizona, a small part of west Texas and into northern Mexico. It is a rounded shrub that is distinctive for its lobes
that develop into small bag or bladder-like shells around the fruits.
The stems form a spreading rigid patter, with the tips often spine-like. The leaves are small.
Two-lipped flowers develop in pairs facing away from each other:
the upper lip is white to light violet and hairy,
while the lower lip is three-lobed and intense dark violet.
The leaves and flowers are sparse, but the bags makes them easy to spot from a distance. The calyx starts out as a base to the flower, reddish-purple in shade, and then as the flower ages, it expands into its distinctive bag shape. The dried flower eventually falls out the hole in the end.
Flowering is generally April through June, but the bags may last into winter, becoming dry and papery. The genus is named for Jose Salazar y Larregui, Mexican commissioner for the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey of 1848-55. The first time I saw it, on April 17, 2010, I only saw one bush, in a dry wash in the Eagle Mountains on the way to Carey's Castle. On a subsequent trip to the same area, on May 15, 2010, I saw them everywhere. I realized that the one I'd seen on my earlier trip was one of the early bloomers. It took me a long time to identify the plant, primarily because I was focused on the white bags, which I thought were the flowers. The information for this post has come from Wikipedia, Salazaria.

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