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Cleome houtteana
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Cleomaceae
Genus: Cleome
    • Aldenella Greene
    • Andinocleome Iltis & Cochrane
    • Anomalostemon Klotzsch
    • Areocleome R.L.Barrett & Roalson
    • Arivela Raf.
    • Atalanta (Nutt.) Raf.
    • Aubion Raf.
    • Buhsea Bunge
    • Carsonia Greene
    • Celome Greene
    • Chilocalyx Klotzsch
    • Cleoserrata Iltis
    • Coalisina Raf.
    • Cochranella E.M.McGinty & Roalson (2020)
    • Corynandra Schrad. ex Spreng.
    • Cristatella Nutt.
    • Cyrbasium Endl.
    • Dactylaena Schrad. ex Schult. & Schult.f. (1829)
    • Decastemon Klotzsch
    • Dianthera Klotzsch
    • Diorimasperma Raf.
    • Dipterygium Decne.
    • Dispara Raf.
    • Gilgella Roalson & J.C.Hall
    • Gynandropsis DC.
    • Haptocarpum Ule
    • Hemiscola Raf.
    • Iltisiella Soares Neto & Roalson (2020)
    • Isexina Raf.
    • Jacksonia Raf. ex Greene
    • Justago Kuntze
    • Kersia Roalson & J.C.Hall
    • Lagansa Rumph. ex Raf.
    • Melidiscus Raf.
    • Micambe Adans.
    • Mitostylis Raf.
    • Neocleome Small
    • Oncufis Raf.
    • Pedicellaria Schrank
    • Pericla Raf.
    • Physostemon Mart.
    • Podandrogyne Ducke
    • Podogyne Hoffmanns.
    • Polanisia Raf.
    • Pterocleome Iltis ex E.M.McGinty & Roalson (2020)
    • Pteroloma Hochst. & Steud.
    • Puccionia Chiov.
    • Roeperia F.Muell.
    • Rorida J.F.Gmel.
    • Roridula Forssk.
    • Scolosperma Raf.
    • Sieruela Raf.
    • Siliquaria Forssk.
    • Sinapistrum Mill.
    • Stylidocleome Roalson & J.C.Hall
    • Stylista Raf.
    • Symphyostemon Klotzsch
    • Tarenaya Raf.
    • Tetratelia Sond.
    • Thulinella Roalson & J.C.Hall
    • Triandrophora O.Schwarz

Cleome is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cleomaceae, commonly known as spider flowers, spider plants, spider weeds, or bee plants.[2][3] Previously, it had been placed in the family Capparaceae, until DNA studies found the Cleomaceae genera to be more closely related to the Brassicaceae than the Capparaceae. Cleome and clammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra) can sometimes be confused.

The genus sensu stricto includes about 170 species of herbaceous annual or perennial plants and shrubs.[4] The genus has a subcosmopolitan distribution throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world.[4] However, a recent DNA study 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; in this case, Cleome contains about 275 species, the vast majority of the Cleomaceae.

The genus contains species which show an evolutionary progression from C3 to C4 photosynthesis. This, combined with it being very close to the Brassicaceae with the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana, makes it an ideal genus in which to study the evolution of C4 photosynthesis. Morphological differences that demonstrate the transition from C3 to C4 include C3 species having leaves with more veins and larger bundle sheath cells. Also, species such as Cleome gynandra produce proteins needed for C4 photosynthesis.[5] Three species independently acquired the C4 pathway, while others are C3–C4 intermediate or C4-like.[6]


199 species are accepted.[1][4][7][8][9][10]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Cleome chelidonii at Pocharam Lake, Andhra Pradesh, India

Cleome gynandra is used as a vegetable crop. C. houtteana is a commonly cultivated ornamental plant with purple, pink, or white flowers.

Gallery of species[edit]

Stereo image
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Cleome seeds resemble snail shells


  1. ^ a b "Cleome L." Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  2. ^ Steve L. O’Kane Jr. "Cleomaceae: Cleome Family". San Juan College. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
  3. ^ G. J. H. Grubben (2004). Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2: Vegetables. PROTA. p. 197–198. ISBN 978-90-5782-147-9.
  4. ^ a b c Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening 1: 652-653. Macmillan. ISBN 1-56159-001-0.
  5. ^ Marshall, D.M.; Muhaidat, R.; Brown, N.J.; Liu, Z.; Stanley, S.; Griffiths, H.; Sage, R.F.; Hibberd, J.M. (2007). "Cleome, a genus closely related to Arabidopsis, contains species spanning a developmental progression from C3 to C4 photosynthesis". The Plant Journal. 51 (5): 886–896. doi:10.1111/j.1365-313X.2007.03188.x. ISSN 0960-7412. PMID 17692080. Open access icon
  6. ^ Feodorova, T.A.; Voznesenskaya, E.V.; Edwards, G.E.; Roalson, E.H. (2010). "Biogeographic patterns of diversification and the origins of C4 in Cleome (Cleomaceae)" (PDF). Systematic Botany. 35 (4): 811–826. doi:10.1600/036364410X539880. ISSN 0363-6445. S2CID 84983697. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  7. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Cleome list Archived 2009-01-20 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Flora Europaea: Cleome list
  9. ^ USDA Plants Profile: Cleome list
  10. ^ Efloras: Cleome search results
  11. ^ Flora of China 7: 430–431. 2008: Tarenaya Rafinesque