Cleome amblyocarpa (PROTA)

From PlantUse English
(Redirected from Cleome arabica (PROTA))
Jump to: navigation, search
Prota logo orange.gif
Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
List of species

General importance Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Geographic coverage Africa Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Geographic coverage World Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Vegetable Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Medicinal Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Forage / feed Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg

Cleome amblyocarpa L.

distribution in Africa (wild)
Protologue: Acta Univ. Lund., ser. 2, 1(4): 25 (1905).
Family: Capparaceae (APG: Cleomaceae)
Chromosome number: 20


  • Cleome arabica auct. non L.

Origin and geographic distribution

Cleome amblyocarpa is distributed from Senegal east to Djibouti. It also occurs throughout northern Africa and the Arabian peninsula to Israel, Jordan and Iraq.


In Mauritania grilled leaves are cooked into food to be taken for kidney and back problems and as an aphrodisiac. In Niger the dried powdered leaves are added to food for its diuretic properties, to cause sweating or to treat rheumatism. In Saudi Arabia the whole plant is used for treatment of scabies, rheumatic fever and inflammation.

In Mauritania the plants are readily grazed but in Niger camels apparently avoid it and sheep and goats only rarely feed on it.


Compounds isolated from the aerial parts include stigma-4-en-3-one, lupeol and taraxasterol as well as the dammarane triterpenes amblyone, 15α-acetoxycleoamblynol A, cleoamblynol A and cleoamblynol B, cleocarpanol, and cabraleahydroxy lactone. The flavone luteolin 3’-methyl ether, and its 7-glucoside were also isolated. Ethanol extracts of the aerial parts showed varying antifungal activity against a range of pathogenic fungi.


Erect annual to perennial herb 15–80 cm tall, much-branched, glandular throughout with stalked glands. Leaves alternate, palmately compound with (1–)3 leaflets; stipules absent; petiole short; leaflets almost sessile, elliptical, 1–4 cm × 0.5–2 cm, distinctly glandular. Inflorescence a terminal, lax raceme with leaf-like bracts. Flowers bisexual, irregular; pedicel 5–10 mm long; sepals 4, free, ovate, up to 2 mm long; petals 4, narrowly oblong to obovate, 3–4 mm × 1–2 mm, yellow fading to white, deep purple at apex; stamens 6, fertile, uniform, c. 4 mm long; ovary superior, 1-locular. Fruit a narrow, cylindrical capsule up to 45 mm × 10 mm, dehiscing from below with 2 valves, many-seeded. Seeds rounded to kidney-shaped, 2 mm in diameter, densely woolly hairy at maturity. Seedling with oblong cotyledons; first leaves simple.

Other botanical information

Cleome comprises 150–200 species, about 50 of them occurring in Africa. It is classified in the subfamily Cleomoideae, sometimes considered as a separate family Cleomaceae. There has been confusion about Cleome arabica. For tropical Africa the name has been misapplied to specimens of Cleome amblyocarpa. Cleome arabica var. stenocarpa Franch. has been described from Ethiopia but is now considered a synonym of Cleome ramosissima Webb. ex Parl. The latter species has unspecified medicinal uses in Ethiopia. The consensus at present is that Cleome arabica L. does not occur in tropical Africa but is distributed from Egypt eastwards to southern Iran. This species has medicinal uses as well.

Cleome angustifolia

Cleome angustifolia Forssk. is widely distributed in areas of tropical Africa with an annual rainfall of less than 500 mm. In Namibia the Heikum bushmen boil the roots in water and inhale the steam to induce sweating to ease headache and flu.

Cleome strigosa

Cleome strigosa (Bojer) Oliv. occurs in coastal East Africa and the Mascarene Islands. The coastal tribes of Kenya and Tanzania use a leaf decoction as eardrops to cure earache.

Growth and development

Flowering is from January to April.


Cleome amblyocarpa is common in areas with low rainfall like sandy coastal dunes, desert, desert wadis, rocky localities and waste ground.

Propagation and planting

Cleome amblyocarpa is propagated by seed.

Genetic resources

Cleome amblyocarpa is widespread and not heavily exploited and is not at risk of genetic erosion.


Cleome amblyocarpa will probably remain an unimportant medicinal plant in tropical Africa.

Major references

  • Boulos, L., 1999. Flora of Egypt. Volume 1 (Azollaceae-Oxalidaceae). Al Hadara Publishing, Caïro, Egypt. 419 pp.
  • Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
  • Elgamal, M.H.A., Shalaby, N.M.M. & Duddeck, H., 1992. Constituents of Cleome amblyocarpa. Fitoterapia 63: 285.
  • Harraz, F.M., Ulubelen, A., Oksüz, S. & Tan, N., 1995. Dammarane triterpenes from Cleome amblyocarpa. Phytochemistry 39(1): 175–178.
  • Hashem, M., 2011. Antifungal properties of crude extracts of five Egyptian medicinal plants against dermatophytes and emerging fungi. Mycopathologia 172(1): 37–46.

Other references

  • Atiqur Rahman, M., Mossa, J.S., Al-Said, M.S. & Al-Yahya, M.A., 2004. Medicinal plant diversity in the flora of Saudi Arabia 1: a report on seven plant families. Fitoterapia 75: 149–161.
  • Debela Hunde, Zemede Asfaw, Ensermu Kelbessa, 2006. Use of traditional medicinal plants by people of ‘boosat’ subdistrict, central eastern Ethiopia. Ethiopian Journal of Health Science 16(2): 141–155.
  • Fujimoto, T., 2009. Wild plants as agricultural indicators: linking ethnobotany with traditional ecological knowledge. In: Heckler, S. (Editor). Landscape, process and power: re-evaluating traditional environmental knowledge. Berghahn Books, Oxford, UK. pp. 156–183.
  • Hall, J.C., Sytsma, K.J. & Iltis, H.H., 2002. Phylogeny of Capparaceae and Brassicaceae based on chloroplast squence data. Systematic Botany 29: 1826–1842.
  • Hedge, I.C. & Lamond, J., 1970. Capparidaceae. In: Rechinger, K.H. (Editor) Flora Iranica. Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, Graz, Austria. 32 pp.
  • Kers, L.E., 1967. On the identities of Cleome angustifolia Forssk. and Cleome arabica L. Acti Horti Bergiani 20(8): 335–342.
  • Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
  • Mohamed, A.H., 2009. Numerical taxonomy study on species of Cleomaceae in Egypt. Arab Universities Journal of Agricultural Sciences 17(1): 19–30.
  • Weiss, E.A., 1979. Some indigenous plants used domestically by East African coastal fishermen. Economic Botany 33(1): 35–51.
  • von Koenen, E., 2001. Medicinal, poisonous and edible plants in Namibia. Klaus Hess Verlag, Göttingen, Germany. 336 pp.

Afriref references


  • P. Nana, School of Wood, Water and Natural Resources, Faculty of Agriculture and Agricultural Sciences, University of Dschang, Ebolowa Campus, P.O. Box 786, Ebolowa, Cameroon
  • H.S. Foyet, Department of Agriculture, Livestock and By-products, The Higher institute of the Sahel, University of Maroua, P.O. Box 46, Maroua, Cameroon

Correct citation of this article

Nana, P. & Foyet, H.S., 2013. Cleome amblyocarpa Barratte & Murb. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 2 July 2022.