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SPECIES:  Salazaria mexicana
Mexican bladdersage near Chloride, NV. Creative Commons image by Zoya Akulova.


SPECIES: Salazaria mexicana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Tesky, Julie L. 1994. Salazaria mexicana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION: SALMEX SYNONYMS: NO-ENTRY NRCS PLANT CODE: SAME COMMON NAMES: Mexican bladdersage paperbagbush TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for Mexican bladdersage is Salazaria mexicana Torr. (Lamiaceae ) [1,17,23]. There are no recognized infrataxa. LIFE FORM: Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Salazaria mexicana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Mexican bladdersage is found in the Mojave, Sonora, and Colorado deserts from southern California to southern Utah, western Arizona, southwestern Texas, and northern Mexico [8,15,20,23,31].
Distribution of Mexican bladdersage in the United States. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC. [2018, August 24] [25].
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES30  Desert shrub
   FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES40  Desert grasslands


    7  Lower Basin and Range
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont

   K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland
   K024  Juniper steppe woodland
   K039  Blackbrush
   K041  Creosotebush
   K042  Creosotebush - bursage
   K044  Creosotebush - tarbush
   K053  Grama - galleta steppe
   K054  Grama - tobosa prairie
   K057  Galleta - three-awn shrubsteppe
   K059  Trans-Pecos shrub savanna

   238  Western juniper
   239  Pinyon - juniper


Mexican bladdersage is commonly found in the desert grasslands, creosotebush
(Larrea tridentata) scrub, blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima) scrub,
mixed desert shrub communities, Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia)
woodlands, and pinyon (Pinyon spp.)-juniper (Juniperus spp.) woodlands
[9,11,17,18,31].  Nichol [33] described a Mojave yucca (Yucca
schidigera)-Mexican bladdersage association found on rocky soils in the Mojave
Desert of Arizona.  In addition to the above mentioned species,
Mexican bladdersage is commonly found associated with California buckwheat
(Eriogonum fasciculatum), spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa), Nevada ephedra
(Ephedra nevadensis), green ephedra (E. viridis), and Mojave desertrue
(Thamnosma montana), [18,27].

Mexican bladdersage is listed as a codominant species in the following

The natural vegetation of Arizona [33].


SPECIES: Salazaria mexicana
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Mexican bladdersage is grazed only lightly by cattle and horses except on ranges where little other forage is available [9]. PALATABILITY: NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE: NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE: Some arroyo habitats where Mexican bladdersage occurs provide den sites for the desert tortoise [16]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES: NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Salazaria mexicana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Mexican bladdersage is a native, perennial, rhizomatous, rounded to straggly, intricately branched shrub 1 to 3.5 feet (0.3-1 m) tall [8,15,17,29,31]. It is usually sparsely leaved [23]. The mature plants form a dense tangled clump of intertwined living and dead stems [4]. The branches are spine tipped with papery bladders scattered over the surface [15]. The leaves are 0.3 inch (8 mm) wide and 0.2 to 1 inch (5-25 mm) long, thickish, and leathery [23]. The flowers are in loose racemes 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) long [15,17,29,31]. The calyx is pouch shaped and about 0.37 inch (0.95 cm) long. At maturity it is bladdery and inflated (0.5 to 0.75 inch [1.3-1.9 cm] in diameter), enclosing four nutlets [29]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Mexican bladdersage reproduces by seed. The flowers are animal pollinated and the seeds are dispersed by wind [19]. Seeds are highly viable during the first year after they are produced, but viability decreases by 1.5 years. The percent germination of Mexican bladdersage seeds collected in summer and late fall of 1973 was as follows [22]: storage conditions date observed warehouse -15 deg C 4 deg C room temp. December 1973 84 N/A N/A N/A January 1975 92 83 94 91 May 1975 33 44 44 43
Mexican bladdersage fruits, Clark County, NV. Image used with permission, © Neal Kramer.
Mexican bladdersage also reproduces by sprouting from rhizomes [4].  Comstock
and others [4] described the growth of Mexican bladdersage on a Mojave Desert
study site as follows:  Shoots originated from underground rhizomes and
reached a height of 1.6 to 3.3 feet (0.5-1.0 m) in the first year.  For
the next 2 to 5 years whorls of short side branches originated
repeatedly from the uppermost nodes forming short floral shoots and ever
more tangled whorls of old twigs.  Twig lifespans were variable.  Shoots
originating from rhizomes lasted 3 to 5 years and the short floral
side branches often died back during their first drought [4].

Mexican bladdersage is commonly found on sandy, gravelly, or clayey soils in dry
washes and canyons, on desert hillsides and mesas, and along arroyos
[8,11,20].  It grows best on sunny sites [26].  Mexican bladdersage commonly
occurs at the following elevations:

Arizona - below 3,000 feet (914 m) [11] 
California - below 5,000 feet (1,524 m)[17]
Trans-Pecos Texas - 2,200 to 3,100 feet (670-944 m) [20]
Utah - 3,083 to 4,593 feet (940-1,400 m) [31]

Mexican bladdersage can apparently be found in most stages of succession.  Wells
[30] described it as a pioneer shrub typically found in disturbed areas.
Mexican bladdersage density was 81 plants per acre (202 plants/ha) and frequency
was 20 percent on a 33-year-old abandoned street system of a Nevada
ghost town [30].  In the Mojave Desert Mexican bladdersage is a long-lived shrub
present in later stages of desert succession [27,28].  According to
Vasek and Barbour [27] Mexican bladdersage prefers undisturbed sites and usually
decreases in relative abundance with soil disturbance.  On a sandy
bajada in California, Mexican bladdersage was present in an old, stable
creosotebush scrub community [27].

Mexican bladdersage generally flowers from March through June [15,17,23].  Its
leaves are drought deciduous [4].


SPECIES: Salazaria mexicana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Regeneration of Mexican bladdersage after fire is not described in literature currently available. Because of its sprouting ability, it probably can regenerate from underground rhizomes if top-killed by fire. Mexican bladdersage probably also colonizes burned areas via wind-dispersed seeds. Fire frequency in the communities where Mexican bladdersage occurs depends on productivity and continuity of fuels. In creosotebush scrub communities, fires generally occur in those occasional years when exceptionally heavy winter rains have produced abnormally high number of annuals [10]. Fires are also rare in blackbrush communities; however, these communities have been known to burn under conditions of high temperature, high wind velocity, and low relative humidity [10]. Pinyon-juniper communities historically burned every 10 to 30 years [32]. Fires in mountainous areas of the Mojave Desert where Mexican bladdersage occurs usually cover limited areas but may be highly destructive to the woody tissues of Mexican bladdersage plants. These mountain burns are very susceptible to erosion and revegetate slowly [10]. Where livestock grazing has reduced grass cover and accelerated erosion, fire frequency has decreased [14,32]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY: Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Salazaria mexicana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Information was not available regarding the immediate effects of fire on Mexican bladdersage. However, Mexican bladdersage is probably top-killed by fire. Severe fires may kill belowground rhizomes. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Salazaria mexicana
REFERENCES: 1. Benson, Lyman; Darrow, Robert A. 1981. The trees and shrubs of the Southwestern deserts. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press. [18066] 2. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 3. Cody, M. L. 1986. Spacing patterns in Mojave Desert plant communities: near-neighbor analyses. Journal of Arid Environments. 11: 199-217. [4411] 4. Comstock, J. P.; Cooper, T. A.; Ehleringer, J. R. 1988. Seasonal patterns of canopy development and carbon gain in nineteen warm desert shrub species. Oecologia. 75(3): 327-335. [22222] 5. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. 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A comparison between xeroriparian and upland vegetation of Beaver Dam Slope, Utah, as desert tortoise habitat. In: Clary, Warren P.; McArthur, E. Durant; Bedunah, Don; Wambolt, Carl L., compilers. Proceedings--symposium on ecology and management of riparian shrub communities; 1991 May 29-31; Sun Valley, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-289. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 25-31. [19091] 17. Munz, Philip A. 1974. A flora of southern California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1086 p. [4924] 18. Pemberton, Robert W. 1988. The abundance of plants bearing extrafloral nectaries in Colorado and Mojave Desert communities of southern California. Madrono. 35(3): 238-246. [6163] 19. Pendleton, Rosemary L.; Pendleton, Burton K.; Harper, Kimball T. 1989. Breeding systems of woody plant species in Utah. In: Wallace, Arthur; McArthur, E. Durant; Haferkamp, Marshall R., compilers. Proceedings--symposium on shrub ecophysiology and biotechnology; 1987 June 30 - July 2; Logan, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-256. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 5-22. [5918] 20. Powell, A. Michael. 1988. Trees & shrubs of Trans-Pecos Texas including Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks. Big Bend National Park, TX: Big Bend Natural History Association. 536 p. [6130] 21. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 22. Rowlands, Peter G. 1980. Recovery, succession, and revegetation in the Mojave Desert. In: Rowlands, Peter G., ed. The effects of disturbance on desert soils, vegetation & community processes with emphasis on off road vehicles: a critical review. Special Publication, Desert Plan Staff. Riverside, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management: 75-119. [20680] 23. Shreve, F.; Wiggins, I. L. 1964. Vegetation and flora of the Sonoran Desert. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2 vols. [21016] 24. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 25. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available: [34262] 26. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240] 27. Vasek, Frank C.; Barbour, Michael G. 1977. Mojave desert scrub vegetation. In: Barbour, M. G.; Major, J., eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 835-867. [3730] 28. Vasek, F. C.; Johnson, H. B.; Eslinger, D. H. 1975. Effects of pipeline construction on creosote bush scrub vegetation of the Mojave Desert. Madrono. 23(1): 1-13. [3429] 29. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707] 30. Wells, Philip V. 1961. Succession in desert vegetation on streets of a Nevada ghost town. Science. 134: 670-671. [4959] 31. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944] 32. Wright, Henry A.; Bailey, Arthur W. 1982. Fire ecology: United States and southern Canada. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 501 p. [2620] 33. Nichol, A. A. [revisions by Phillips, W. S.]. 1952. The natural vegetation of Arizona. Tech. Bull. 68 [revision]. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona, Agricultural Experiment Station: 189-230. [3928]

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