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Family Cleomaceae

Description: Annual or perennial herbs or subshrubs, rarely shrubs; glabrous or indumentum of simple glandular or eglandular hairs; stems sometimes armed.

Leaves alternate, usually palmately compound, sometimes simple; stipules usually present; leaflets usually 3–7; venation pinnate.

Inflorescence axillary or terminal, a raceme or corymb, sometimes flowers solitary, usually bracteate. Flowers bisexual, actinomorphic to slightly zygomorphic. Sepals 4, free or fused basally, sometimes deciduous; petals 4, free, equal or unequal, variously coloured. Stamens 6–27 (–35), sometimes some or all reduced to staminodes; filaments free or basally fused to gynophore, nectaries sometimes associated with stamens; anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Gynoecium usually 1- or 2-carpellate. Ovary superior, 2-locular, ovules 1–many per locule; style 1, stigma capitate; placentation parietal.

Fruit usually a dry pedicellate capsule, usually dry lateral valves, with a persistent, thin, hoop-like woody placenta. Seeds reniform or horseshoe-shaped to coiled or conduplicate, smooth to tuberculate, often without an aril.

Distribution and occurrence: Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 25 genera and c. 270 species, mainly in tropical to warm-temperate regions. Australia: 6 genera, c. 22 species (5 naturalised) WA, Cocos Is., Christmas Is., Ashmore Reef, NT, SA, Qld, NSW.

External links:

This family is the subject of ongoing research. Generic boundaries have been revised in recent years, with N.S.W. species formerly placed in Cleome now in Arivela, Sieruela or Tarenaya; further changes are possible. K.L. Gibbons, 12 May 2023.

Text by Andre Messina, adapted by Kerry Gibbons, 12 Apr. 2023
Taxon concept: APG IV. Flora of Australia [accessed 12 Apr. 2023]. Distribution and occurrence: Flora of Australia, Australian Plant Census [both accessed 12 Apr. 2023].

 Key to the genera 
1Petals entire; leaves mostly 5–7-foliolate, rarely 3-foliolate or leaves simple; capsule linear, not inflated2
Petals notched or cut into narrow lobes; leaves 3-foliolate; capsule linear-oblong, inflatedPolanisia
2Leaves palmately compound with 3–7 leaflets3
Leaves simple
                       Back to 1
3Stipules absent; capsule glandular-pubescentArivela
Stipules spinescent; capsule glabrous
                       Back to 2

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