slender spiderflower, more...
[Cleome multicaulis Dc., more]
Duration: Annual Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Herbaceous annual; stems erect, slender, unbranched or sparingly-branched, 20.0-70.0 cm tall, appearing delicate, glabrous. Leaves: Leaves are alternate, palmately divided 3-foliate, leaflets narrow, 1.0-3.0 cm long and 1.0-3.0 mm wide, short-petioled to sub-sessile. Flowers: Openly scattered in axillary spike-like racemes; petals 4, pink-purple 4.0-7.0 mm long, clustered towards one side of the flower; stamens 6, equal in length to the petals; flowering June-August. Fruits: Narrow, multi-seeded, obovoid to linear capsules to 1-2 cm long with a stalk-like base (gynophore); drooping at maturity. Ecology: Moist to saturated saline or alkaline sinks, flats, springs, meadows, old lake beds or playas; 3,600-4,200 ft (1098 -1281 m). Distribution: south-central CO, sw NM, s WY, se AZ south to c MEX. Notes: Cleome multicaulus is a rare plant endemic to a few localities (see didt below), and listed as endangered in NM and salvage restricted in AZ. Known from two historic locations in AZ: Wilcox Playa and San Bernadino NWR but recent relocation efforts have been unsuccessful. Distinguished by its slender growth habit; mostly petiole-less palmate leaves with three narrow leaflets; 4 pink-purple petals 4-7mm long which are clustered on one side of the flower and short drooping capsule with a single row of seeds. The distinct habitat will also get you to this species. Ethnobotany: Unknown but the entire plants of other species of Cleome-- leaves and seeds especially-- have been a source of food since prehistoric times by indigenous tribes of the Americas. Etymology: Cleome is early European name for mustard-like plant. Multicaulus likely refers to the often multiple branches from the base. Synonyms: Peritoma multicaulus Editor: FSCoburn 2014