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Cleome serrulata (Rocky mountain beeplant)
Reveal, James L.

Cleome serrulata

Cleome serrulata Pursh

Rocky Mountain Beeplant, Skunkweed, Waa

Capparaceae (Caper Family)

Synonym(s): Cleome serrulata var. angusta


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Annual with erect stem is leafy and branching above. Leaflets occur in threes. Branched stems have palmately compound leaves and, in racemes at ends of branches, pink or reddish-purple flowers (sometimes white). Showy clusters of pink flowers continue to elongate during the season, so that the slender seed capsules may be present even while the upper portion of the inflorescence in still flowering. Six conspicuous stamens protrude beyond the pink petals. Rocky Mountain beeplant may attain 4-5 ft.

Flowers produce copious nectar and attract bees, hence the common name. Indians boiled the strong leaves for food and as a stomachache remedy. In times of drought early Spanish-Americans made tortillas from the barely palatable but nourishing seeds.


From the Image Gallery

41 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Leaf: Green
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AZ , CA , CO , CT , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , MA , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , ND , NE , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , SD , TX , UT , WA , WI , WY
Canada: AB
Native Distribution: E. WA to CA, e. to Sask. & extreme n.e. TX; introduced eastward
Native Habitat: Prairies; open woods; wash areas; disturbed sites

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Well-drained, sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: Members of this genus have been cultivated as garden ornamentals. Rocky Mountain beeplant is recommended for short-term stabilization and beautification.


Use Wildlife: Bees are attracted to the pink flowers, and seeds are important food for doves and other small birds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Deer Resistant: Minimal

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Checkered White
(Pontia protodice)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Propagate by seed. Sow thickly as germination is poor.
Seed Collection: Rounded, brown, corn-shaped seeds fall out of the pod at maturity.
Seed Treatment: No treatment is necessary but moist stratification may enhance germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1990 VOL. 7, NO.4 - Research Update, Wild-Collecting Endangers Natives, Director's Report, Maryland ...
Wildflower Newsletter 1994 VOL. 11, NO.1 - Winter Botanizing Using Stems, Director's Report, Welcome New Education Director...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cleome serrulata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cleome serrulata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cleome serrulata


Record Modified: 2018-08-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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