This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Herbs or low shrubs, generally branching. Leaves digitately 3-5-foliolate, or simple. Leaflets entire or serrulate. Calyx 4-divided or of 4 sepals, often persistent. Petals 4, cruciate, nearly equal, entire, more or less clawed. Receptacle short, slightly prolonged above the petal-bases. Stamens 6 (rarely 4), inserted on the receptacle above the petals. Ovary stalked, with a gland at its base. Capsule elongated, long-stipitate, many-seeded. [Derivation uncertain; perhaps from the Greek, to shut.]
About 75 species, mainly natives of tropical regions, especially American and African. In addition to the following, 4 others occur in the western part of the United States. Type species: Cleome gynandra L., of tropical regions, which has been found as a waif in waste grounds on Staten Island, N. Y.
Leaves, at least the lower, 5-7-foliolate.
Flowers pink, or white.
Annual, erect, glabrous, 2°-3° high, branching above. Leaves 3-foliolate, the lower long and slender-petioled, the upper sessile or nearly so; leaflets lanceolate or oblong, acute, entire or distantly serrulate, 1' - 3' long; fruiting racemes greatly elongated; bracts lanceolate or linear, often mucronate; pedicels slender, spreading or recurved and 6"-10" long in fruit; stipe of the pod about equalling the pedicel; flowers pink or white, very showy; petals oblong, slightly clawed, 5"-6" long, obtuse; pods linear, acute, 1'-2' long.
Annual, erect, 2°-4° high, branching above, clammy-pubescent. Leaves 5-7-foliolate, the lower long-petioled, 5'-8' in diameter, the upper shorter-petioled or nearly sessile, passing into the simple lanceolate or cordate-ovate bracts of the raceme; petioles spiny at the base; leaflets lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, acute, minutely serrulate; flowers numerous, long-pedicelled, showy, purple or whitish, 1' broad or more; petals obovate, long-clawed; stipe of the linear glabrous pod at length 2'-6' long; stamens variable in length, often long-exserted.
Cleome lutca Hook. Fl. .Bor. Am. 1: 70. pl. 25. 1830.
Annual, erect, glabrous, branching, 1 1/2o-3 1/2o high. Leaves 5-foliolate, slender-petioled, or the upper 3-foliolate and nearly sessile; leaflets oblong or oblong-lanceolate, entire, short-stalked or sessile, narrowed at the base, obtuse or acute and mucronulate at the apex, 1/2'-2' long; racemes elongating in fruit; bracts linear-oblong, mucronate; pedicels slender, 5"-6" long; flowers densely racemose, yellow; petals obovate or oblonceo-late, about 1' long; pod linear, 1 1/2'-3' long, acute, borne on a stipe becoming longer than the pedicel.
In dry soil, Nebraska to Washington and Arizona. June-Sept.