Paper bag bush, bladder sage
The Mojave Desert and adjoining areas (AZ, CA, NV, UT), and the Big Bend area of west Texas
Usually between 2 and 4 feet; sometimes taller
Dry, gravelly or sandy washes, hillsides, woodland, up to 5,000 feet
Opposite, lanceolate to ovate, around half an inch long
Salazaria mexicana is a desert shrub with many woody, branched, overlapping stems bearing small, greyish-green leaves at opposite intervals; unremarkable overall but producing unusual flowers. Stems are rigid, branch at right angles, and are narrow and spine-like at the tip. Salazaria is a monotypic genus.
The flowers have an upper lip which is white or very pale purple in color and shaped like a hood, plus a dark purple lower lip, divided into three lobes. The upper lip has an even covering of short hairs. The calyx below the corolla is reddish purple at first, and traditionally shaped, but gradually lightens in color and becomes inflated (widest towards the base), hence the common name of paper bag bush. The inflated calyx contains the seeds, which are dispersed when the bag splits.