Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Cleome simplicifolia (Cambess.) Hook. f. & Thomson in Fl. Brit. India 1: 169. 1872. Polanisia simplicifolia Cambess. in Jacq. Voy. Bot. 20, t. 20, 1844. C. asperrima Blatter in J. Asiat. Soc. Bengal n. s. 26: 340. 1937, syn. nov.

Herbs, erect, decumbent or prostrate, under 60 cm high, much-branched from base; stems angled, scabrid strigose. Leaves obovate, lanceolate, linear-oblong or oblong-elliptic, tapering at base, obtuse or subacute at apex, entire or faintly serrulate along margins, densely strigose with scaly hairs; petioles scabrid at base, up to 2 cm long but almost absent upwards. Flowers 4 - 5 mm across, showy, pink or purple, solitary in axis of leafy bracts forming lax few-flowered racemes; pedicels filiform, puberulous, up to 1.8 cm long, elongating up to 3.5 cm while fruiting. Sepals triangular or ovate, acute at apex, 1.8 - 3.5 x 0.8 - 1.5 mm, scabrid. Petals oblong, obovate, oblanceolate or spathulate, indistinctly clawed at base, rounded with a mucro at apex, 5 - 5.5 x 1.7 - 2.2 mm, pink, mauve, lilac or purplish violet, mostly glabrous, sometimes hairy along margins and midrib. Stamens 8 - 16 (-24); filaments glabrous, 3 - 5 mm long, slender throughout or slightly thickened at apex. Ovary cylindric, 2 - 4.2 x 0.5 - 0.8 mm, elongating after anthesis. Capsules glabrous, striate, subtorulose, 25 - 35 x 2 - 2.5 mm (including 4 - 6 mm long beak); seeds 4 - 15, reniform, 1.5 - 1.8 mm, yellowish brown, turning into black, smooth or with a few protuberances; cleft open or narrow so as to appear closed; elaiosome white.

Fl. & Fr. July - Nov.

Distrib. India: Weed of wastelands, restricted to Central, Western and Peninsular India. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharastra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.


Notes. According to Blatter (l. c.) C. asperrima is distinguished from C. simplicifolia as follows:-

C. asperrima C. slmplicifolia
1. Sepals narrowly triangular, acuminate. Sepals ovate, acute.
2. Petals 4 - 5 mm long, oblanceolate, strigose on back along median line. Petals up to 5.5 mm long, oblong, glabrous.
3. Pedicels totally hispid. Pedicels apically hairy.
4. Stamens 8 - 15 filaments uniformly thickened. Stamens 8 - 24; filaments thickened at apex only.
5. Seeds with closed cleft. Seeds with open cleft.

Study of fresh specimens reveals that the characters are variable, intergrading and not taxonomically significant. In C. simplicifolia sepal shape ranges from ovate to narrowly triangular; pedicels are often hispid; stamens vary from 8 - 24 and cleft of seeds is open to seemingly closed due to narrow opening. Except for the strigose petals there is no other consistent character to rely upon, but in Capparaceae indumentum and innovations are of no taxonomic value. After examining the types of both species, C. simplicifolia Poonah (pune), Jacquemont 342 & 405 (K) and C. asperrima Dhulia, Maharastra, Helene Hedberg 7670 (BLATT) and a study of populations, C. asperrima in relegated to the synonymy of C. simplicifolio. Elaiosomes are quite conspicuous in this species, but surprisingly no mention is made of this character in any of the floras.

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