Physaria pulvinata
Author: O'Kane & Reveal

Cushion bladderpod

Brassicaceae (mustard family)

Close up of Physaria pulvinata. Photo ©Al Schneider,

Close up of Physaria pulvinata flowers. Photo ©Al Schneider,
Close up of Physaria pulvinata fruit. Photo ©Al Schneider,

Taxonomic Comments

Recently described species by O'Kane and Reveal (2006).

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G1
State rank: S1
Federal protection status: USFS Sensitive, BLM Sensitive
State protection status: None

Description and Phenology

Physaria pulvinata: artwork in progress

General description: Plants are low and compact, densely matted and densely hairy. A long lived perennial, less that 3 dm across with reddish stems and gray-green foliage arising from a deep-seated taproot terminated by a buried, densely branched caudex system of up to several hundred branches each ending in a tufted cluster of leaves. Flowers are yellow with four narrowly spatulate petals 4-7 mm long. Fruit are ellipsoid, compressed, 4-6 mm long and densely pubescent (O'Kane and Reveal 2006).

Look Alikes: Not likely to be confused with other species in this habitat in this part of Colorado.

Phenology: Plants flower in June-July and produce fruit in August (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2012).


Habitat of Physaria pulvinata by Bernadette Kuhn

Habitat of Physaria pulvinata. Photo ©Al Schneider,

This species is known from widely scattered outcrops of grayish, argillaceous (Mancos) shale. It grows in openings between low shrubs Artemisia nova, Chrysopsis, and Tetraneuris, and forbs Sphaeralcea and Cryptantha (O'Kane and Reveal 2006).

Elevation Range: 7,543 - 8,487 feet (2,299 - 2,587 meters)


Colorado endemic: Yes
Global range: Endemic to Colorado; known from San Miguel and Dolores counties. Estimated range is 55 square kilometers (21 square miles), calculated in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences (calculated by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in 2008).
Distribution of Physaria pulvinata in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2012, COMaP v9 ).

Distribution of Physaria pulvinata in Colorado

Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Physaria pulvinata based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be “Weakly Conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.

The primary threat is considered to be recreation, both motorized and non-motorized. This species also is threatened by over-grazing, and removal of shale for road work (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2012, O'Kane and and Reveal 2006).


    • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2005. The Second Annual Colorado Rare Plant Symposium: G1 Plants of Colorado. Symposium Minutes. Available on-line
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2010. The Seventh Annual Colorado Rare Plant Symposium: G1 Plants of Colorado. Symposium Minutes. Available on-line
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2012. Biodiversity Tracking and Conservation System. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee, ed. (FNA). 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Oxford Univ. Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Lavender, A.E., M.M. Fink, S.E. Linn, D.M. Theobald. 2011. Colorado Ownership, Management, and Protection v9 Database. Colorado Natural Heritage Program and Geospatial Centroid, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. (30 September).
    • Neely, B., S. Panjabi, E. Lane, P. Lewis, C. Dawson, A. Kratz, B. Kurzel, T. Hogan, J. Handwerk, S. Krishnan, J. Neale, and N. Ripley. 2009. Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Strategy, Developed by the Colorado Rare Plant conservation Initiative. The Nature Conservancy, Boulder, Colorado, 117 pp.
    • O'Kane, S. L., and J. L. Reveal. 2006. Physaria pulvinata (Brassicaceae), a new species from southwestern Colorado. Brittonia 58(1):74-77.
    • Panjabi, S., B. Neely and P. Lyon. 2011. Preliminary Conservation Action Plan for Rare Plants in the Plateau Creek and Miramonte Reservoir West Priority Action Areas. Prepared by The Nature Conservancy and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. Unpublished report prepared for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 28 pp.
    • Reveal, J.L. 2005. University of Maryland: An Array of Botanical Images, Physaria pulvinata.
    • Schneider, A. 2013. Wildflowers, Ferns, and Trees of the Four Corners Regions of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Accessed on-line at
    • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora, Western Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 532 pp.

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