Cleome pungens



Bercht. & J.Presl 1825

pronounced: klee-oh-MAY-see-eye

the stinkweed family

The name of the family, taken from the type genus Cleome, is probably derived from an ancient Greek name for a mustard-like plant. These plants were formerly included in Capparaceae, but raised to a distinct family after the examination of DNA evidence. Some authorities include the new family in Brassicaceae. Cleomaceae are mostly evil-smelling herbs. The leaves are stipulate, alternate, mostly palmately compound with 3 – 7 leaflets. The flowers are either radially symmetrical or zygomorphic. The plants are found worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions, with a few species in warm temperate, generally arid, regions. The unpleasant odours of many members of the family have given rise to names such as stinkflower, stinkweed and skunkweed. Clammyweed is another common name, that refers to the sticky stems and foliage of some species.


Illustration from Chapman's Flora of the Southern United States 1860