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Polanisia erosa.jpg
Polanisia erosa
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Cleomaceae
Bercht. & J.Presl[1]

See text

The Cleomaceae are a small family of flowering plants in the order Brassicales, comprising about 300 species in 10 genera, or about 150 species in 17 genera.[2] These genera were previously included in the family Capparaceae, but were raised to a distinct family when DNA evidence suggested the genera included in it are more closely related to the Brassicaceae than they are to the Capparaceae. The APG II system allows for Cleomaceae to be included in Brassicaceae.[3]


In 1994, a group of scientists including Walter Stephen Judd suggested to merge the Capparaceae (which at that time included the Cleomaceae) with the Brassicaceae. Early DNA-analysis showed that the Capparaceae - as defined at that moment - were paraphyletic, and others suggested to assign the genera closest to the Brassicaceae to the Cleomaceae.[4] The Cleomaceae and Brassicaceae diverged approximately 41 million years ago.[5] All three families have consistently been placed in one order (variably called Capparales or Brassicales).[4] The APG II system, merged Cleomaceae and Brassicaceae. Other classifications have continued to recognise the Capparaceae, but with a more restricted circumscription, either including Cleome and its relatives in the Brassicaceae or recognizing them in the segregate family Cleomaceae. The APG III system has recently adopted this last solution, but this may change as a consensus arises on this point. Current insights in the relationships of the Brassicaceae, based on a 2012 DNA-analysis, are summarized in the following tree.[6]

core Brassicales

family Resedaceae

family Gyrostemonaceae

family Pentadiplandraceae

family Tovariaceae

family Capparaceae

family Cleomaceae

family Brassicaceae

family Emblingiaceae


Their leaves are palmately compound, and they have six stamens.[2]

The genera in Cleomaceae include:[7]

Recent DNA studies have failed to separate Cleome, Podandrogyne, and Polanisia from each other, so some taxonomists have abandoned the last two of these genera, treating them as part of Cleome sensu lato.


  1. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  2. ^ a b Cleomaceae, Zhang Mingli (张明理)1; Gordon C. Tucker2,, [1]
  3. ^ Stevens, P. F. (2001 onwards) Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Brassicales.
  4. ^ a b Hall, J.C.; Sytsma, K.J.; Iltis, H.H. (2002). "Phylogeny of Capparaceae and Brassicaceae based on chloroplast sequence data". American Journal of Botany. 89 (11): 1826–1842. doi:10.3732/ajb.89.11.1826. PMID 21665611. 
  5. ^ Renate Schmidt, Ian Bancroft, eds. (2010). Genetics and Genomics of the Brassicaceae. Plant Genetics and Genomics: Crops and Models. 9. Springer Science & Business Media. 
  6. ^ Su, Jun-Xia; Wang, Wei; Zhang, Li-Bing; Chen, Zhi-Duan (June 2012). "Phylogenetic placement of two enigmatic genera, Borthwickia and Stixis, based on molecular and pollen data, and the description of a new family of Brassicales, Borthwickiaceae" (PDF). Taxon. 61 (3): 601–611. 
  7. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Cleomaceae