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Yellow Bee Plant Cleome lutea


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Yellow Bee Plant
© Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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Alternate name: Yellow Spider-flower

Family: Capparaceae, Caper view all from this family

Description A sprawling plant with palmately compound leaves and racemes of small yellow flowers at the tops.
Habit: native annual herb; stout, erect, usually branched stem with widely-spaced leaves; self-seeds to form large colonies.
Height: 1-5 ft (0.3-1.5 m)
Leaf: alternate, long-stalked, palmately compound, 3-7 leaflets; leaflets 0.3-2.5 in (8-60 mm) long, 0.1-0.4 in (2-10 mm) wide; becoming smaller and entire above.
Flower: bright yellow, 0.25 in (6 mm) long, short-stalked, with 4 oblong petals, 6 long stamens with knobby anthers; in dense terminal cluster, long or domed.
Fruit: long, narrow pod, 0.4-1.5 in (10-38 mm) long; hanging from long arched stalk.

Flower May to September.

Flower May - August

Habitat Semi-desert, foothills, mountains, plateaus, desert scrub, sagebrush and pinyon-juniper communities; 2700-7200 ft (800-2200 m).

Range Western U.S.: Washington south to California, east to New Mexico, north to Nebraska and Montana.

Discussion Also known as yellow spiderflower, yellow spiderwort, . Two varieties are proposed. The genus name was used by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus for a plant resembling mustard, and while the flowers resemble those of mustards, the ovary on a jointed stalk and palmately compound leaves distinguish this as a member of the Capparaceae family. A flowering plant may have blooming flowers at the top of the stem and ripening capsules dangling off the stem further down.

The similar Golden Spider Flower (C. platycarpa), from eastern Oregon, southwestern Idaho, and adjacent portions of California and Nevada, has hairs on stems and leaves tipped with glands.

Exposure Preference Sun.

Native Distribution E. Washington to e. California, e. Bighorn Co, Montana & n.w. New Mexico

Site Preference River bottoms; stream banks; sandy flats; desert plains

Soil Preference Sandy or rocky soils.