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Robert E. Preston & Staria S. Vanderpool

Annual, perennial herb, shrub, often ill-smelling. Leaf: generally 1-palmate, generally alternate, generally petioled; stipules generally minute, often bristle-like or hairy; leaflets 0 or 3–7. Inflorescence: raceme, head, or flowers 1, expanded in fruit; bracts generally 3-parted below, simple above, or 0. Flower: generally bisexual, radial to ± bilateral; sepals generally 4, free or fused, generally persistent; petals generally 4, free, ± clawed; stamens generally 6, free, exserted, anthers generally coiling at dehiscence; ovary superior, generally on stalk-like receptacle, chamber generally 1, placentas generally 2, parietal, style 1, persistent, stigma generally minute, ± head-like. Fruit: 2 nutlets or generally capsule, septicidal; valves generally 2, deciduous, leaving septum (frame-like placentas) behind; pedicel generally ± reflexed to spreading.
17 genera, ± 150 species: widespread tropics to arid temperate. [Iltis & Cochrane 2007 Novon 17:447–451] Treated as Capparaceae in TJM (1993). —Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Unabridged references: [Ernst 1963 J Arnold Arbor 44:81–93]

Key to Cleomaceae


1 sp. (F.A. Wislizenus, plant collector in southwestern United States, 1810–1889)

W. refracta Engelm. JACKASS-CLOVER
Annual, short-lived perennial herb, glabrous to puberulent. Stem: much-branched from base, 0.5–24 dm. Leaf: petiole 3–25 mm; leaflets generally 3. Inflorescence: raceme, terminal, 1–3 cm, dense, in fruit 4–20 cm; pedicels 5–10 mm. Flower: radial; sepals free, 1–2 mm, ± entire, green; petals 2.5–6.3 mm, elliptic, yellow, tapered to base, claw ± 0; stamens 8–14 mm, yellow; ovary 0.3–0.6 mm, generally exserted, lobes 2, ± free, each generally 1-ovuled, style 2–5.5 mm. Fruit: 2 nutlets; valves deciduous; receptacle stalk-like, reflexed; style elongate but not spine-like. Seed: 1(3) per nutlet.
2n=40. TOXIC but seldom eaten. Valuable honey plant. [Online Interchange]
Unabridged references: [Vanderpool et al. 1991 Amer J Bot 78:295–937]

Key to Wislizenia refracta

W. refracta subsp. refracta
Annual. Stem: green, tan. Leaf: leaflets 3, 7–30 mm, ovate. Flower: receptacle 3–6 mm; sepals 1–1.5 mm, lanceolate; anthers 0.9–1.2 mm; style 2–5 mm.
Sandy washes, roadsides, alkaline flats; 90–1160 m. s Mojave Desert, n Sonoran Desert; to Utah, western Texas, Mexico. Apr–Oct [Online Interchange] {CNPS list}

Previous taxon: Wislizenia refracta subsp. palmeri
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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Mar 30 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Wislizenia, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Mar 30 2015

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click for enlargement Wislizenia refracta subsp. refracta
See CalPhotos for additional images
© 2005 James M. Andre

Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Wislizenia refracta subsp. refracta Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.