Cleome spinosa L.

Cleome houtteana plant

Family - Capparaceae

Stems - To 1m tall, from stout taproot, typically simple, herbaceous, densely viscid-pubescent and with some appressed arachnoid pubescence above, with a small prickle at the base of each leaf petiole.

Cleome houtteana stemStem.

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate, palmately compound. Petiole to +/-15cm long, with distinct adaxial groove, with prickles, glandular and arachnoid pubescent. Leaflets 5-7, oblanceolate to elliptic, acute to acuminate, tapered at base, to 15cm long, +/-4cm broad, entire, with prickles on midrib below, glandular pubescent above, sparse arachnoid pubescent below, with petiolules to 4mm long. Margins retrorse serrulate.

Inflorescence - Dense compact terminal raceme elongating in fruit to +40cm long(tall). Pedicels to 5cm long in flower, densely glandular pubescent, elongating in fruit. Bracts in inflorescence foliaceous, cordate, ovate, with spines at base.

Flowers - Petals 4, pink to rose, clawed, to 3cm long. Claw to +/-7mm long. Limb elliptic, to 2cm long, 1cm broad, glabrous. Stamens 6, erect to spreading. Filaments to +/-1cm long, glabrous, rose-pink. Anthers +1cm long, yellow-orange. Ovary on stalk(gynophore) to 3mm long. Stalk elongating in fruit to +6cm long, glabrous. Ovary green, 4mm long, glabrous. Sepals 4, attenuate, 2mm broad at base, to 7mm long, glandular pubescent, reflexed but with tips ascending. Fruit to +6cm long, glabrous, 2-valved, with stigma persistent and capitate. Seeds numerous. Placentation parietal.

Cleome houtteana flowersFlowers.

Cleome houtteana calyxCalyx.

Flowering - May - July.

Habitat - Cultivated and rarely escaped.

Origin - Native to South America.

Other info. - This plant is dubbed "Spider flower" because of the long stamens and clawed petals. It is a fast growing species that is widely cultivated here in Missouri. The plant produces many fruits and seeds and can be grown from seed. The flower color is typically pink or rose but red and white are not uncommon. Be careful when handling this plant as it is somewhat spiny.
Synonyms are C. hassleriana Chod. and Cleome houtteana Schlecht.

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 6-4-00 and off Highway 23 near Gaylord, MI., 7-20-02.


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