Cleome foliosa is a charming annual for the water wise garden.
Cleome foliosa is an annual (occasionally perennial) herb that grows up to 1.2 m tall. The stems are striate and sometimes sparsely hairy. Leaves are 3 to 5-foliate and become progressively smaller along the stem, with smaller leaf-like stipules at the base of the petioles.
It has striking yellow flowers, which fade to a reddish colour, with yellow or yellow and lilac filaments. As in other species of Cleome, it has exceedingly long seed capsules which develop below the flowers as bloom progresses up along the flowering stems. Capsules are linear, slightly curved and striped with longitudinal ridges. The flowering season is variable and seems to be rainfall-dependent. Three varieties of this species are recognised. Variety foliosa grows up to 1.2 m tall, with 5–7-foliate leaves and petals up to 25 mm; var. lutea grows 0.5–1.0 m tall, with 3–5-foliate leaves and petals 10–20 mm with capsules spreading; var. namibensis grows 200–500 mm tall, with 3-foliate leaves and petals are 10–15 mm with capsules held upright.
Cleome foliosa is Red Listed as Least Concern (LC).
Cleome foliosa is confined to the extreme northwestern part of South Africa, along the border of the Northern Cape and Namibia extending north into Namibia up to the Kaokoveld and Angola. It is found in sandy and rocky soils and is common along road verges and other disturbed areas . The distribution of the varieties differs with var. foliosa occurring from the central Namib northwards into Angola, var. lutea is found from the northwestern section of the Northern Cape through southern and southwestern Namibia up to the Kaokoveld, and var. namibensis is limited to the central Namib.
D erivation of name
Cleome foliosa belongs to the Capparaceae (caper family). The species epithet foliosa refers to its leafy appearance.
Uses and cultural aspects
This species has no recorded ethnobotanical uses. However, other species in the genus are used. In the northern regions of Namibia, as well as parts of South Africa, Cleome gynandra and C. maculata are consumed as wild spinach. Cleome spinosa is a common ornamental plant grown in many gardens. Seeds of a number of species are eaten by birds, especially doves.
Growing Cleome foliosa
Cleome foliosa is a bright and cheerful annual that can be planted in a perennial garden bed or in pots to bring a burst of colour to the space. Plant seedlings or young plants in full sun in loose friable soil. As this species occurs naturally in very arid areas and is therefore relatively drought-resistant. Plants will, however, respond best to regular watering. Space plants 200–400 mm apart at the back of borders or in the centre of island beds where their tall sprays of cheerful yellow flowers will display to best effect. Seeds can be sown onto the surface or planted approximately 5 mm deep and the plants are likely to reseed themselves throughout the garden.
Codd, L.E. & Kers, L.E. 1970. Capparaceae. In L.E. Codd, B. de Winter, D.J.B. Killick & H.B. Rycroft (eds), Flora of Southern Africa: Volume 13 . Department of Agricultural Technical Services, Pretoria.
http://www.ehow.com. How to Plant Cleome Seeds, eHow.com, 2013. How to Plant Cleome Seeds [ONLINE]. Accessed 16 April 2020.
Mannheimer, C., Maggs-K ö lling, G., Kolberg, H. & R ü gheimer, S. 2008. Wildflowers of the southern Namib: a photographic guide to the wildflowers of south-western Namibia . Macmillan, Windhoek.
Foden, W. & Potter, L. 2005 . Cleome foliosa Hook.f. var. lutea (Sond.) Codd & Kers. In D. Raimondo, L. von Staden, W. Foden, J.E. Victor, N.A. Helme, R.C. Turner, D.A. Kamundi, & P.A. Manyama (eds ), Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Robyn Powell & Anthony Magee