Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Sphaerophysa salsula
red bladder-vetch, alkali swainsonpea

Distribution: Occurring east of the Cascades in Washington, chiefly in the central part of the state; Washington to California, east to the Great Plains.

Habitat: Alkaline soil at low elevations, often where disturbed.

Flowers: May-July

Origin: Introduced

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Herbaceous perennial from extensive, woody rhizomes, the stems 4-9 dm. tall, arising singly or several together.


Leaves odd-pinnate, leaflets 9-25, elliptic-oblanceolate or oblong-elliptic, 1-2 cm. long, pale, glabrous at least above; stipules linear, 2-7 mm. long.


Inflorescence of axillary racemes, loosely 5- to12-flowered, bracteate, the peduncles about equaling the leaves; calyx bell-shaped, 5-toothed, with 2 basal bracteoles about 1 mm. long; corolla brick red to pinkish-brown, pea-like, banner and wings equal length, 10-15 mm. long; style sparsely hairy on the upper side.


Pod membranous, inflated, 1.5-3 mm. long and 1-1.5 mm. broad, with a stipe as long to twice as long as the calyx.

Accepted Name:
Sphaerophysa salsula (Pall.) DC.
Publication: Prodr. 2: 271. 1825.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Phaca salsula Pall.
Swainsona salsula (Pall.) Taub. [HC]
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Sphaerophysa salsula in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Sphaerophysa salsula checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Sphaerophysa salsula atlas page.

CalPhotos: Sphaerophysa salsula photos.

USDA Plants: Sphaerophysa salsula information.

24 photographs:
Group by