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English: bladderpod, stinkweed; Spanish: ejotillo, quelite, flor de ruda, ruda del monte. Kumeyaay variants include: peshaash (LAH:TCR); peshaalh (LAH:JAM); pchaalh (BNR); pshalj (Cortés Rodríguez 1988); psháll (Hinton 1975) (see Figure 33). Figure 33. Peritoma arborea. In spite of its less than glamorous name, the Kumeyaay highly value bladderpod or stinkweed as a nutritious and tasty food (Hinton 1975).


From coastal cliffs, up through chaparral and down to low desert, from central Baja California to central Alta California, this shrub’s distinctive showy yellow flowers and “conspicuous, strongly-inflated green pods” (Roberts 1989:148) make it easy to identify. Although the Cahuilla reportedly ate the seeds (Bean and Saubel 1987), in Baja California the Kumeyaay relish the flowers as a fresh vegetable, which they still occasionally prepare even though the process is time consuming (Cuero Robles and Aldama Cuero 2010). The main bloom is in springtime; however the plant may flower throughout the year (Lightner 2011). Harvesters nip off the flower heads with thumb and forefinger, avoiding the leaves, which make the food bitter (Cuero Robles and Aldama Cuero 2010). The flowers and buds must boil for many hours, and more boiling water must be added occasionally. Some consultants recommend putting it on the stove in the evening with some big pieces of firewood and cooking it all night long. Because of the plant’s bitterness, after it first boils, 105 consultants recommended discarding the liquid and adding new boiling water to continue the cooking process. Once the bitterness is gone, the cook drains the remaining mass, then takes it out and squeezes it by hand to remove more water, making it into a ball. This can then be eaten plain or stewed up with onions, tomatoes, peppers, or other condiments; either way the Kumeyaay usually eat it with mush or tortillas (Aldama Machado et al. 2010b; Cuero Robles and Aldama Cuero 2010; Meza Cuero 2011).

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