Cleome rutidosperma DC.

Etymology Genus Given by Theophrastus, successor of Aristotle. Reference to plant unknown.
Species Unknown
Family Cleomaceae
Synonyms Cleome ciliata Schumach. & Thonn., Cleome rytidosperma DC. ex Schult. f.
Common Names Purple Cleome, Fringed Spiderflower
Status Exotic: Naturalised
Form Herb
Native Distribution Tropical Africa


Cleome rutidosperma is a very common weed of lawns. The key is to watch out for its trifoliate leaves. Each leaflet is somewhat diamond-shaped with no stalk. The flowers are very small (about 15mm across) with upward pointing purple petals and protruding stamens and pistils.

Interesting Facts:

The Purple Cleome is naturalised throughout the tropics (eFlora, 2008). While tasting bitter, the leaves are eaten as a vegetable (Jansen, 2004).

In Malaysia, planting of this weedy herb around crop-fields helps to divert pest caterpillars of the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) such that the eggs are laid on the Purple Cleome instead (Jansen, 2004).

Purple Cleome is a short herb commonly on lawns.

Trifoliate leaves. Each leaflet does not have a stalk.

The purple flower up close.

Fruit is long and capsular.


eFloras (2008) Cleome rutidosperma Candolle. Flora of China. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge. Accessed on 22-Mar-2013.
Jansen PCM. (2004) Cleome rutidosperma DC. In: Grubben GJH & OA Denton (Eds). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Legumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2013-03-22 / Modified: 2017-12-25