Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Cleome rutidosperma DC., Prodr. 1: 241. 1824; Mukherjee in Indian For. 95: 237. 1969.

Herbs, annuals, erect or decumbent, 0.2 - 1 m high; stems weak, ribbed, subglabrous to eglandular-pilose, clothed with soft recurved deciduous up to 2 mm long prickles. Leaves 3-foliolate; lower ones long petiolate, upper ones short petiolate or sessile; leaflets subsessile, rhombate-elliptic or obovate, oblong-lanceolate, attenuate or cuneate and webbed at base, acute or acuminate at apex, obscurely crenulate-serrulate and purple along margins, 1 - 6 x 0.2 - 2 cm, glabrous; lateral nerves 6 - 8 pairs, softly setose; petioles at base up to 4 cm long, gradually diminishing upwards to nearly absent; petiolules up to 0.5 mm long. Racemes lax, few-flowered, leafy, not clearly demarcated, up to 20 cm long. Flowers in axils of leaves below and foliaceous bracts above, showy pink, magenta, bluish-violet or rarely white with pink streaks; pedicels filiform, 1 - 2 cm long, elongating to 3.5 cm in fruits, shortly glandular hairy. Sepals linear-lanceolate, acuminate, 2.5 - 4 x 0.3 - 0.8 mm, thinly clothed with short bristles. Petals oblanceolate to elliptic, attenuate-clawed at base, apiculate at apex, 8 - 12 x 1.5 - 2.5 mm; claw 2 - 3.5 mm long. Stamens 6; filaments 6 - 9 mm long; anthers linear, ca 2 mm long, recurved after anthesis. Gynophore 1.5 - 2 mm long, elongating to 8 mm in fruits; ovary linear, 7 - 12 mm long, slightly curved; stigma sessile, capitate. Capsules linear-cylindric, compressed, attenuate at both ends, ribbed, 4 - 7 cm long, 2.5 - 4 mm thick; beak 1 - 4 mm long; valves parallel-veined, glabrous; seeds many, suborbicular to reniform with prominent concentric and transverse ridges and open cleft, 1.6 - 1.9 x 1.4 - 1.7 mm, orange brown, drying black; elaiosome white or creamy, conspicuous.

Fl. & Fr. May - Nov.

Distrib. India: An African plant, introduced and naturalised in India in wastelands from sea level to 800m. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Tropical America, Trop. Africa, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines.

Notes. In India, the species was first reported from Assam and West Bengal and subsequently from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Jha and Varma (in Geobios 8: 152 - 153. 1989) reports it from Bihar. However, a careful scrutiny of herbarium specimens reveals-that it is common in many parts of India, often misidentified as either "Cleome burmannii" or as "c. aspera" in several herbaria (Sundara Raghavan in J. Econ. Tax. Bot. 5: 463 - 465. 1984).

Plants exhibit dimorphism when fresh. The two middle petals have yellow transverse bands (as in C. monophylla) but these fade out and are indistinguishable on drying.

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