Missouri Bladderpod: (Lesquerella filiformis)
Status: Endangered in Missouri and Threatened federally.
The Missouri bladderpod sure didn’t win the name game, but this rare little jewel is a lovely wild flower. Once a species facing extinction, the Missouri bladderpod now has a promising future because of the efforts of caring people. The Missouri bladderpod was listed as endangered in February 1987. Progress toward recovery led to its reclassification to threatened in September 2003. When listed, the Missouri bladderpod was known from only nine sites. Now Approximately 61 populations, primarily in southwest Missouri are documented. Populations of this attractive annual undergo wide fluctuations from year to year in the number of plants present. The number of individuals observed has ranged from zero to over three hundred thousand from year to year.
The Missouri bladderpod is only found southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. Natural habitat for Missouri bladderpods is primarily open limestone glades; Glades are naturally dry, treeless areas with shallow, loose soil and areas of exposed rock. Many of the glades where it grows have been heavily impacted by quarrying, grazing, construction, and/or fire suppression. Fortunately, some populations are growing on protected lands.
The Missouri bladderpod is a small annual plant, about 4 to 8 inches tall, with distinctive canary-yellow flowers cluster at the top of the stems and bloom from April to May. The flowers have four yellow petals and produce round green seedpods (1/8 inch in diameter) that turn brown as they dry.
Management tools include prescribed burns, chain-sawing, and herbicides to control the woody vegetation and invasive exotic plants (herbicide use is restricted from June through August); rerouting hiking trails to reduce foot traffic impacts; and reducing or eliminating excessive livestock grazing.