Peritoma serrulata (Rocky Mountain Beeplant)
|Also known as:||Spider-flower, Pink Cleome, Stinking Clover, Stinkweed|
|Family:||Cleomaceae (Spider Flower)|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; sandy or gravelly soil; prairies, roadsides, railroads, open woods, dunes|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||1 to 5 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Elongating cluster of showy stalked flowers at the ends of branching stems, with many flowers blooming in a rounded cluster at the tip and fruit forming below. Flowers are ½ to 2/3 inch across with 4 petals that are oblong to narrowly egg-shaped, abruptly narrowed near the base, and asymmetrically arranged. Color ranges from nearly white to pink to purplish. Protruding from the center are 6 long, straight, purple-tipped stamens up to 1 inch long.
The 4 sepals are about 1/8 inch long, green to purple and fused for about half their length, forming a bowl with 4 triangular lobes. Flower stalks are slender and often purple. At the base of the stalk is a leaf-like bract nearly as long as the attendant stalk. All parts are hairless.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are mostly compound in 3's, becoming single near the flower clusters, and have a somewhat repugnant odor. Leaflets are 1 to 2½ inches long and about ½ inch wide, narrowly lance-elliptic and pointed at the tip. The lower compound leaves are long-stalked, becoming shorter stalked as they ascend the stem with the uppermost leaves short-stalked to stalkless. Edges are toothless and may have sparse, long hairs when young but become hairless with age. Stems are hairless, green, and few to many branched with the branches mostly ascending.
Rocky Mountain Beeplant, formerly Cleome serrulata, is a western species of prairies and grasslands, though sometimes considered a roadside weed. All but one of the six records from Minnesota were collected in the 1880s and 1890s and were likely waifs or introductions that did not persist. The national map indicates it is rare in Minnesota, but the DNR considers it non-native in the state and we agree. It is available in the nursery trade and, as the common name suggest, popular with native bees. It is vaguely similar to the related Red-whisker Clammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra), which has much smaller white flowers, erect pods, is covered all over in sticky hairs, and typically of smaller stature. Both have a disagreeable odor, especially when crushed.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Rocky Mountain Beeplant
- Rocky Mountain Beeplant in habitat ©Matt Lavin
- garden-grown Rocky Mountain Beeplant
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?