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Cleome serrulata - Pursh.

Common Name Rocky Mountain Beeplant
Family Capparidaceae
USDA hardiness 3-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Waste land, plains and lower mountains[60], often on sandy soils[85].
Range Western N. America - Washington to Saskatchewan and south to California..
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Cleome serrulata Rocky Mountain Beeplant
Cleome serrulata Rocky Mountain Beeplant

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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Cleome serrulata is a ANNUAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.


Cleome integrifolia. Peritoma integrifolia.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses:

Young shoots, leaves and flowers are cooked and used as potherbs[46, 105, 161, 183]. The plants were gathered and, after removing an alkaline taste[46], were eaten with cornmeal porridge[61, 183]. The plant smells like a skunk, but it was an important potherb for the native North American Indians and the early European settlers in America[207]. Seed - raw or cooked[257]. It can be dried and ground into a meal then used as a mush or mixed with flour to make bread etc[85, 183, 207, 257]. Seedpods - cooked[183]. The hardened cakes of dyestuff (see note on the plants other uses) can be soaked in hot water and then eaten fried[207].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Deodorant;  Febrifuge.

An infusion of the plant is drunk in the treatment of fevers and stomach disorders[213, 257]. A poultice made from the pounded, soaked leaves has been applied to sore eyes[257].

Other Uses

Deodorant;  Dye.

A black dye is obtained[46, 61, 85] by boiling down the whole plant[95]. It is used as a paint for decorating pottery[207]. The young plants are harvested in mid-summer, boiled well in water, the woody parts of the plant are removed and the decoction is boiled again until it becomes thick and turns black. This thick liquid is then poured onto a board to dry in cakes and can be kept for an indefinite period. When needed it is soaked in hot water until the correct consistency for paint is achieved[207]. A decoction of the leaves has been used as a body and shoe deodorant[257].

Cultivation details

Prefers a light fertile soil in a warm dry sunny position with plenty of room to spread[200]. A frost tender plant, it can be grown as a summer annual in Britain[200]. A very good bee plant, it is often planted by apiarists in America[207]. This plant was probably cultivated by the N. American Indians[85]. The Indians would allow the plant to produce seed when it was growing wild in the cornfields in order to ensure a supply the following year[216].


Seed - surface sow or only lightly cover the seed in spring in a greenhouse[164]. The seed usually germinates in 5 - 14 days at 25°c[164]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring. Day time temperatures below 20°c depress germination but a night time fall to 20° is necessary[164].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Clammy weed, Stinking clover, Rocky Mountain beeplant/beeweed, stinking-clover,bee spiderflower, bee spider-flower, skunk weed, Navajo spinach, and guaco

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Native to southern Canada and western and central United States.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant can be weedy or invasive.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Cleome gynandraAfrican Spider Flower, Spiderwisp02
Cleome luteaYellow Spiderflower, Jones spiderflower21
Cleome monophylla 21
Cleome ornithopodioidesBird spiderflower10
Cleome viscosaTickweed, Asian spiderflower22


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Subject : Cleome serrulata  
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