Peritoma multicaulis
Author: DC.

slender spiderflower

Capparaceae (Caper Family)

Close up of Cleome multicaulis by Georgia Doyle
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Close up of Cleome multicaulis by Steve O'Kane
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Close up of Cleome multicaulis by Renee Rondeau
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Taxonomic Comments

The Flora of North America (1993+) and Weber and Wittmann (2012) place Cleome multicaulis in the genus Peritoma.

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G2G3
State rank: S2S3
Federal protection status: BLM Sensitive
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Artwork in progress by Julie Terry. Please also see 1997 profile.

General description: Cleome multicaulis is a slender annual forb with erect, unbranched or sparingly branched leafy stems 2-7 dm tall, and glabrous. Leaves are short-petioled and palmately compound with 3 narrow leaflets 1-2 cm long and less than 1.5 mm wide, and may be folded along the midrib.  Flowers have 4 pink or pinkish-white petals 4-6 mm long and are borne on thin stalks in the axils of reduced leaves. The 6 stamens are equal in length to the petals. Fruits are narrow capsules 6-18 mm long, tapering to a stalk-like base (gynophore), and droop at maturity (Flora of North America 1993+; Spackman et al. 1997; Weber and Wittmann 2012; Culver and Lemly 2013).

Look Alikes: Cleome serrulata is more robust, with wider leaflets (5-10 mm), larger flowers with stamens exceeding the petals, and larger fruits (Spackman et al. 1997).

Phenology: Flowering on branches first occurs next to stem and progresses terminally (Graff 1992). Flowers and fruit June through August (Ackerfield 2012, Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2012).

[+] Habitat

Habitat of Cleome multicaulis by Susan Spackman Panjabi
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Cleome multicaulis is restricted to saline or alkaline soils, around alkali sinks, ponds, alkaline meadows, or old lake beds. The surrounding plant community is saline bottomland shrubland (dominated by Sarcobatus and Chrysothamnus). The plant often grows in bands just above rushes (Juncus sp.) and may extend into greasewood and saltgrass (Graff 1992, Spackman et al. 1997, Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2013).

Elevation Range: 7,477 - 8,192 feet (2,279 - 2,497 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Cleome multicaulis in Colorado.
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Colorado endemic: No
Global range: South-central Colorado and Wyoming, and extant in southwest Texas. Thought to be extirpated for populations south of Colorado. Historically from southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico; unknown about population near central Mexico (near Mexico City).
State range: Known from Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties in Colorado. Estimated range in Colorado is 3562 square kilometers (1375 square miles), calculated in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences (calculated by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in 2008).

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Cleome multicaulis based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be “effectively conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.
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The primary threat at this time is considered to be hydrologic alteration (Rondeau et al. 2011). It is not known if all of the occurrences are or are not threatened by these activities. Potential water projects in San Luis Valley could threaten habitat by lowering the water table. Several populations are in heavily grazed sites.

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.
    • Assistant Colorado State Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1993. Report on San Luis Valley Interagency Field Trip July 6 and 8, 1993.
    • Colorado Native Plant Society. 1989. Rare plants of Colorado. Rocky Mountain Nature Association, Colorado Native Plant Society, Estes Park, Colorado. 73 pp.
    • Culver, D. R. and J. M. Lemly. 2013. Field Guide to Colorado's Wetland Plants. Colorado Natural Heritage Program. Colorado State University. 694 pp.
    • Fertig, W. 1993. Field survey for Cleome mulitcaulis, Cymopterus williamsii, and Sullivantia hapemanii in north-central Wyoming. Unpublished report prepared for the Bur. of Land Management, Casper District by the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, Laramie.
    • Fertig, W., C. Refsdal, and J. Whipple. 1994. Wyoming rare plant field guide. Wyoming Rare Plant Technical Committee, Cheyenne. No pagination.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2010. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 7. Magnoliophyta: Salicaceae to Brassicaceae. Oxford University Press, New York. xxii + 797 pp.
    • Graff, D. 1992. Staus Report for Cleome multicaulis on Blanca Wetlands. Unpublished manuscript.
    • Iltis, H.H. 1958. Studies in the Capparidaceae 5. Capparidaceae of New Mexico. Southwest Naturalist 3: 133-144.
    • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
    • Leck, M.A. 1989. Wetland seed banks. In M.A. Leck, V.T. Parker, and R.L. Simpson (eds.) Ecology of soil seed banks. Academic Press, Inc., San Diego, CA.
    • Luce, S. L. 1983. A study of the pollination ecology and reproductive strategies of Cleome serrulata (Pursh). M.S. Thesis, University of Wyoming.
    • Neely, B., S. Panjabi, E. Lane, P. Lewis, C. Dawson, A. Kratz, B. Kurzel, T. Hogan, J. Handwerk, S. Krishnan, J. Neale, and N. Ripley. 2009. Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Strategy, Developed by the Colorado Rare Plant conservation Initiative. The Nature Conservancy, Boulder, Colorado, 117 pp.
    • New Mexico Native Plant Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. Univ. New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 291 pp.
    • O'Kane, S.L. 1988. Colorado's rare flora. Great Basin Naturalist 48(4): 434-484.
    • Rondeau, R., K. Decker, J. Handwerk, J. Siemers, L. Grunau, and C. Pague. 2011. The state of Colorado's biodiversity 2011. Prepared for The Nature Conservancy. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.
    • Spackman, S., B. Jennings, J. Coles, C. Dawson, M. Minton, A. Kratz, and C. Spurrier. 1997. Colorado rare plant field guide. Prepared for Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Colorado Natural Heritage Program.
    • USDA, NRCS. 2013. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
    • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora, Eastern Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 555 pp.

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