Common Names: Paperbag Bush, Bladder Sage, Mexican Bladdersage
Synonyms: Scutellaria mexicana
Family: Lamiaceae (Mint/Sage)
Habit: perennial shrub
Size: up to 5 feet
Flowers: White, Blue, Purple
Bloom: Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct
Fruit: 1/2 inch white or pink paper bags of 4 nutlets
The stems form a spreading rigid pattern, with the tips often becoming spine-like. The branching pattern is distinctive, with opposite side branches forming right angles to the main stem. The plant drops its leaves in dry conditions (drought deciduous).
The leaves are opposite, small, 3–15 mm long and 2–8 mm wide, ovate to elliptic, have smooth edges (entire), and with a very short or nonexistent petiole.
The 2-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 3-lobed and intense dark violet. The calyx starts out as simply a base to the flower, reddish-purple in shade, and then as the flower ages, it expands into its distinctive bag shape, 1–2 cm across, the dried flower eventually falling out of the hole in the end. At Red Rock Canyon, there are plants with almost white bags at lower altitude and pink bags at higher altitude. Both are flowering and may just be different expressions of the same genes.
The fruit inside the dried calyx bags is composed of 4 nutlets. The plant drops its leaves in dry conditions (drought deciduous). The dried bags help with seed dispersal by wind. Flowering is generally March through October, in Las Vegas, but the bags are durable and may last on the plant into winter, becoming dry and papery.
Distribution: AZ, CA, NV, TX, UT
Seen: NV (Red Rock Canyon)
Habitat: sandy and gravelly slopes, desert dry washes, and canyons. 3,500 to 6,000 feet