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Cleome hassleriana


Cleome hassleriana Chodat

Family Name: Cleomaceae
Common Name: Spider Flower, Spider Plant, Grandfather's Whiskers


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 0.9 m to 1.8 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 0.3 m to 0.6 m


Native Distribution Brazil to Northern Argentina
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is an herbaceous plant that often grows 0.9 - 1.2 m tall, but sometimes up to 1.5 - 1.8 m tall.
Foliage Leaves are palmately compound, sticky and may have unpleasant odours. There is a pair of spines at the base of the leaf stalk. Some cultivars lack both odour and spines.
Flowers Flowers in dense terminal raceme inflorescences, showy pink, lavender or white petals, long thread-like stamens, attract bees and butterflies.
Fruits Fruit are long thin capsules (15 cm by 3 mm), many-seeded, brown and dehiscent when mature. Seeds are round, brown and bumpy.
Cultivation It grows best under full sun and in moist, well-drained soil. Although it may tolerate light shade, shade will cause the plant to grow taller and become less stable. Prune off side-shoots for tall slender plants or remove central bud when plant is 30 cm tall for a shorter, bushier form. Under hot and humid growing conditions, the plant may develop powdery mildew or rust. Remove spent flowers to prolong flowering. Propagate by seed.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Easy to Grow
Landscape Uses Flowerbed / Border
Thematic Landscaping Butterfly Garden
Usage Hazard - Cons Spines/Thorns - Stem/Branch
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Spines on thick stems at leaf bases. Leaves are resinous and slightly sticky to the touch.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bat Food (, Flower Nectar), Bee-Attracting, Butterfly Food Plant (Flower Nectar)
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Vertebrates (Bat), Insects (Bee), Insects (Butterfly, Moth))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Explosive Dehiscence)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Planting Distance From 0
Pruning Prune side-shoots to get tall slender plant. When plant is 30cm tall, prune central bud to encourage branching, & to get shorter and bushier form.
Propagation Method Seed
Propagule Establishment Remarks Seed leaves spoon-shaped. True leaves palmately-lobed. Seeds sowed outdoors germinate in 28-45 days.
Maintenance Requirements Remarks Remove spent flowers to prolong flowering period.


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Sticky, Raised / Sunken Veins
Foliar Modification Spine (axillary)
Foliar Type Compound (Palmate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Palmate)
Foliar Venation Palmate
Foliar Margin Palmately Lobed, Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Acute
Typical Foliar Area Microphyll ( 2.25cm2 - 20.25 cm2 )

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink, White, Purple
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Flower Size - Width 3 cm
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Inflorescence Size - Width 18
Inflorescence Size - Unit cm
Flowering Opening Time Time-Independent

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Silique
Mature Seed Colour(s) Brown
Mature Seed Texture(s) Bumpy / Tuberculate

Image Repository



Master ID 7720
Species ID 3313
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 31 March 2023.