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Cleome gynandra facts for kids

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Cleome gynandra
Cleome gynandra Blanco1.233-cropped.jpg
Scientific classification
Cleome gynandra, verspreidingskaart, a.png
      world range
  • Cleome acuta Schumach. & Thonn.
  • Cleome affinis (Blume) Spreng. nom. illeg.
  • Cleome alliacea Blanco
  • Cleome alliodora Blanco
  • Cleome blumeana D.Dietr.
  • Cleome bungei Steud.
  • Cleome candelabrum Sims
  • Cleome denticulata Schult. & Schult.f.
  • Cleome eckloniana Schrad.
  • Cleome flexuosa F.Dietr. ex Schult. & Schult.f.
  • Cleome heterotricha Burch.
  • Cleome muricata (Schrad.) Schult. & Schult.f.
  • Cleome oleracea Welw.
  • Cleome pentaphylla L.
  • Cleome pubescens Sieber ex Steud.
  • Cleome rosea Eckl. ex Steud. nom. inval.
  • Cleome triphylla L.
  • Gymnogonia pentaphylla (L.) R. Br. ex Steud.
  • Gynandropsis affinis Blume
  • Gynandropsis candelabrum (Sims) Sweet
  • Gynandropsis denticulata DC.
  • Gynandropsis glandulosa C.Presl
  • Gynandropsis gynandra (L.) Briq.
  • Gynandropsis heterotricha DC.
  • Gynandropsis muricata Schrad.
  • Gynandropsis ophitocarpa DC.
  • Gynandropsis palmipes DC.
  • Gynandropsis pentaphylla (L.) DC.
  • Gynandropsis pentaphylla Blanco
  • Gynandropsis sinica Miq.
  • Gynandropsis triphylla DC.
  • Gynandropsis viscida Bunge
  • Pedicellaria pentaphylla (L.) Schrank
  • Pedicellaria triphylla (L.) Pax
  • Podogyne pentaphylla (L.) Hoffmanns.
  • Sinapistrum pentaphyllum (L.) Medik.

Cleome gynandra is a species of Cleome that is used as a green vegetable. It is known by many common names including Shona cabbage, African cabbage, spiderwisp, cat's whiskers, chinsaga and stinkweed. It is an annual wildflower native to Africa but has become widespread in many tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world. It is an erect, branching plant generally between 25 cm and 60 cm tall. Its sparse leaves are each made up of 3–5 oval-shaped leaflets. The flowers are white, sometimes changing to rose pink as they age. The seed is a brown 1.5 mm diameter sphere. The leaves and flowers are both edible. The leaves have a strong bitter, sometimes peppery flavor similar to mustard greens.


Cleome gynandra 1.jpg

Typically, the leaves and shoots are eaten boiled or in stews. The leaves are often eaten in Sub-Saharan Africa, where they are often dried for storage, then cooked with milk or butter to reduce its bitter taste. In Uganda and Tanzania, the leaves are cooked with groundnut paste.

The plant is useful for intercropping due to its insect repellent properties.

In Thailand, the leaves are a popular food item fermented with rice water as a pickle known as phak sian dong. The same pickle is also eaten in the northern states of Malaysia, and is known as jeruk maman.

Cleome gynandra is high in beta-carotene, folic acid, ascorbic acid and calcium. It also contains vitamin E, iron, and oxalic acid. Generally, the leaves are about 4.0% protein. The leaves also have antioxidative properties that can help with inflammatory diseases. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is sometimes used as a medicinal herb.

Vernacular names

Cleome gynandra is known by many names in different languages and regions.

In Africa, it is often referred to as spinach or wild spinach (not to be confused with the common spinach). Names in native languages include munyevhe (Shona), murudi (Venda), ulude (Zulu), ombidi[what language is this?] or omboga[what language is this?] (Ovambo), echadoi (Teso), jobyo or ejobyo (Luganda), eshogi (Runyankore), chinsaga (Gusii), dek (Luo), etchilachaou[what language is this?] (Nuni) and mgagani (Swahili).

In Asia, it is known to different cultures as shwetahudhude (Bengali), tilavan (Marathi), vaminta or vayinta (Telugu), phak sian (Thai), maman (Malay), and màn màn trắng or màn ri trắng (Vietnamese).

In Europe, it is known as feuilles caya or mozambe (French), and volatin, masambey, or jasmin de rio (Spanish).


It is an annual wildflower native to Africa but has naturalized across tropic and sub-tropical regions across Asia. It grows well in disturbed, well-drained soils, but is also drought-tolerant. It does not tolerate cold temperatures well, and is frost-tender.

Cleome gynandra is considered an invasive weed in many places in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Pacific.


Cleome gynandra uses NAD-malic enzyme type C4 photosynthesis and has the characteristic traits associated with this, including changes in leaf biochemistry, cell biology and development. The family Cleomaceae is relatively close to Brassicaceae with Arabidopsis thaliana (a C3 photosynthetic plant) and therefore offers comparison with this well studied model organism. The C4 pathway in this species evolved independently from two other C4 Cleome species, C. angustifolia and C. oxalidea.

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