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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Bladder-vetch - Sphaerophysa salsula
Other Names:  Red Bladder-vetch, Alkali Swainsonpea

Non-native Species

Global Rank: GNR
State Rank: SNA
C-value: 1

Agency Status


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General Description
Rhizomatous herb. Stems single or clustered, erect, 40–90 cm. Herbage short-strigose. Leaves petiolate, stipulate, odd-pinnate with 15 to 25 elliptic leaflets 5–15 mm long. Inflorescence loosely-flowered, axillary racemes 5–18 cm long. Flowers papilionaceous; brick red, fading to brown; calyx white-strigose; sepals deltoid, ca. 1 mm long; banner 10–14 mm long, erect, ca. as long as the wings and keel; stamens 9 united, 1 separate. Fruit a papery, inflated, ovoid legume, 15–25 mm long (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Range Comments
Introduced sparingly in western U.S.; native to Asia (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 13

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Low elevation, mesic sites, often where disturbed; road edges, ditches, alkaline wetlands.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see


  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Sater, S. 2022. The insects of Sevenmile Creek, a pictorial guide to their diversity and ecology. Undergraduate Thesis. Helena, MT: Carroll College. 242 p.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Bladder-vetch"
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Citation for data on this website:
Bladder-vetch — Sphaerophysa salsula.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from