Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Cleome isomeris, Bladderpod Spiderflower
= Peritoma arborea

Bladderpod Spiderflower has a showy yellow flower with green sepals and yellow petals. Cleome isomeris Bladderpod Spiderflower is a perennial native with green or gray-green leaves and each leaf has a mostly short stem or petiole. The leaves are palmately compound with 3 leaflets mostly oblong-elliptic and with toothed leaf margins. Cleome isomerisBladderpod Spiderflower is a shrub or sub-shrub that grows up to 4 feet or more and blooms from January to December. This species is found primarily in California. Cleome Bladderpod Spiderflower prefers hillsides, grasslands, desert washes, flats and roadsides. The genus Cleome has been reclassified by some authors to the genus Peritoma and Bladderpod Spiderflower to Peritoma arborea. Cleome isomeris

Scientific Name: Cleome isomeris
Common Name: Bladderpod Spiderflower
Also Called: Bladderbush, Bladderpod, Burro-fat
Family: Capparaceae (or Capparidaceae), Caper Family - Note: The genus Cleome has recently been placed in the Cleomaceae Family)
Synonyms: (Cleome isomeris, Isomeris arborea, Isomeris arborea, Isomeris arborea var. angustata, Isomeris arborea var. globosa, Isomeris arborea var. insularis, Peritoma arborea)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 4 feet more or less.
Growth Form: Shrub, subshrub; rounded form with many branches, minutely hairy pubescence or somewhat glabrous; bark corky, twigs smooth.
Leaves: Green or gray-green; evergreen; short stems (petioles) leaflets 3, palmately compound, mostly oblong-elliptic; margins serrate.
Flower Color: Yellow; inflorescence a raceme; flowers with fused sepals persistent, green, lanceolate in basal ½; petals yellow; stamens also yellow; fruit a capsule.
Flowering Season: January to December.
Elevation: 0 to 4,000 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Hillsides, grasslands, desert washes and flats, roadsides, stabilized dunes.

Recorded Range: Bladderpod Spiderflower is relatively rare in the United States where it is found primarily in southeastern California. It is also native to Baja California and northwest Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Cleome isomeris.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 19 species for Cleome. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 206 accepted species names and a further 84 of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 4 species of genus, California has 5 species, Nevada has 4 species, New Mexico has 3 species, Texas has 5 species, Utah has 2 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Note: The genus Cleome has been reclassified by some authors to the genus Peritoma and Bladderpod Spiderflower to Peritoma arborea.

Comments: The common name "Bladderpod" is a reference to this plants seed pods which look like swollen pea pods.

Cleome isomeris has been used for as food by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Diegueno Food, Unspecified; Seeds and flowers used as food.
  • Kawaiisu Food, Unspecified; Flowers eaten boiled or sun baked.

  • See ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 04/08/2017, updated format 10/11/2017
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 04/08/2017)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 04/08/2017).
    Robert E. Preston & Staria S. Vanderpool 2017; as Peritoma arborea, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 08, 2017.
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 04/08/2017]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    Staria S. Vanderpool, Hugh H. IltisFNA |FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 7 | Cleomaceae | Peritoma ; 1. Peritoma arborea (Nuttall) H. H. Iltis, Novon. 17: 449. 2007.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 04/08/2017).