Despite its unromantic names, bladderpod or bagpod (Sesbania vesicaria) is an attractive member of the legume family. Growing as much as six to ten feet tall, it’s found in the eastern half of Texas, where it becomes especially noticeable in fall when the entire plant turns yellow or gold.
The seed pods responsible for the plant’s common names consist of two distinct layers; an outer, thicker membrane conceals another which is papery, flexible, and thin. Each pod holds two or three seeds, and the pods remain on the plant long after the leaves have fallen and the seeds have been dispersed.
The almost skeletal structure of the plant makes it possible to focus on individual pods as they ripen and release their seeds. In the first photo, the top pod is beginning to release two seeds. The middle pod, which seems to hold only one seed, still is fully intact, and the bottom pod is empty.
In the second photo, the papery membrane has detached but still is clinging to one pod; it appears those seeds already have fallen.