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Lesquerella fendleri (A.Gray) S.Wats.

Bladder-pod, Yellow-top

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Description
  5. Germplasm
  6. Distribution
  7. Ecology
  8. Cultivation
  9. Harvesting
  10. Yields and Economics
  11. Energy
  12. Biotic Factors
  13. References


Bladder-pod is cultivated for the seed which yields up to 28% oil and 22% protein. The oil has possibilities in the manufacture of grease thickeners due to the hydroxy-acid content. Major amounts of hydroxy-acids occur in the obscure seed oils, among them Lesquerella, but few of them have been subjected to development. According to Osman and Ahmad (1981), the only hydroxylated vegetable oil commercially available is castor oil. Other potential sources include Castalis, Coriaria, Dimorphotheca, Hiptage, and Osteospermum.

Folk Medicine

No data available.


The seed contains about 25–30% oil and 20–25% protein. According to Buchanan and Duke (1981), ca 50% of the fatty acids is 12-OH-C18 diene. The seed meal (74.8% of the seed) contains 34.3% protein, 1.2% EE, 11.8% CF, 7.0% ash, and 45.7 NFE. Per gram of nitrogen in the seed meal there are 415 mg lysine, 84 mg methionine, 111 mg cystine, 222 mg isoleucine, 363 mg leucine, 239 mg phenylalanine, 186 mg tyrosine, 278 mg threonine, and 299 mg valine (Miller et al., 1962).


Annual or short-lived perennial with woody base, resembling a tufted perennial; stem erect, usually branched, to 3 dm tall; leaves glabrous to pubescent; flowers bright yellow, petals 8–10 mm long; fruit glabrous capsule, with the pedicel erect or ascending the fruit, hygroscopically dehiscent, holding the seed well through harvest; seed 10–26 per capsule, 2,000 per g. At seed maturation or failing moisture, the plant dries and the taproot breaks off, allowing the dried plant to blow about like tumbleweeds, thus dispersing the seeds. Fl. in Arizona during late May to middle of June.


Reported from the North American Center of Diversity, Fendler's bladderpod, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate frost and high pH (Duke, 1978). A relatively new crop, bladder-pod has no recognized cvs. Because it is very polymorphic, "certainly the most polymorphic in the genus", it offers genetic material for selection and breeding. (2n = 12, 24)


Native to the plains and mesas of southwestern United States, eastward to Kansas and southward into northern Mexico.


Ranging from Cool Temperate Wet through Warm Temperate Thorn to Dry Forest Life Zones, Fendlers bladderpod is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3 to 11 dm, annual temperature of 13 to 15°C, and pH of 5.6 to 8.3 (Duke, 1978). The crop is cold tolerant at altitudes of 1,200–2,100 m, suggesting its use for more northern cultivation. Seeds germinate in the fall; bloom in the spring, and seed is harvested in April, indicative of its requirements for cool, semi-arid conditions during growth. It thrives in areas with 25–40 cm rainfall from September through April, suggestive of the requirements of winter grains. The plant responds well to irrigation. In Texas, massive populations thrive on calich soil. It is a pioneer on disturbed soils which are dry, open, well-drained sites. The plants will tolerate soils with basic reaction (pH 8.2–8.3) but not those with salt or gypsum.


Seeds germinate after being dormant up to 5 years. Under normal situations, light is required for germination. Treatment with giberillic acid overcomes the germination barrier. Optimum germination temperature is 20°C. Propagation is by seed, drilled in 30 cm rows.


It may be harvested with a one-man conventional combine or by manual means.

Yields and Economics

Buchanan and Duke (1981), anticipating a need for 90,700,000 kg Lesquerella seed for hydroxy fatty acids, except 1,121 kg/ha as yield estimate for Lesquerella. Under dry conditions in small experimental plots, yields average about 1,600 kg/ha. No commercial data are available concerning yields or production.


With yields ranging from 1,000–1,600 kg/ha, and oil percentage running about 30% (11–39%), oil yields of as high as 1 MT/ha seem unlikely without more germplasm and selection.

Biotic Factors

No diseases or pests of economic importance are known to occur. However, the following fungi have been found on Lesquerella fenderli: Helminthosporium namum, Phoma punctiformis, Phymatotrichum omnivorum, and Puccinia aristidae.


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw