Various works such as the Flora of N. America[
] and Flora of China[
] treat this species as Gynandropsis gynandra, whilst others, such as the African Plants Database[
] treat it as Cleome gynandra, the treatment we are following here[
Cleome acuta Schumach. & Thonn.
Cleome affinis (Blume) Spreng.
Cleome alliacea Blanco
Cleome alliodora Blanco
Cleome blumeana D.Dietr.
Cleome blumeana Schult. f.
Cleome bungei Steud.
Cleome candelabrum Sims
Cleome denticulata Schult. & Schult.f.
Cleome eckloniana Schrad.
Cleome flexuosa F.Dietr. ex Schult. & Schult.f.
Cleome heterotricha Burch.
Cleome lupinifolia Bartram
Cleome muricata (Schrad.) Schult. & Schult.f.
Cleome oleracea Welw.
Cleome pentaphylla L.
Cleome pubescens Sieber ex Steud.
Cleome rosea Eckl. ex Steud.
Cleome triphylla L.
Gymnogonia pentaphylla (L.) R. Br.
Gynandropsis affinis Blume
Gynandropsis candelabrum (Sims) Sweet
Gynandropsis denticulata DC.
Gynandropsis glandulosa C.Presl
Gynandropsis gynandra (L.) Briq.
Gynandropsis heterotricha DC.
Gynandropsis muricata Schrad.
Gynandropsis ophidocarpa DC.
Gynandropsis ophitocarpa DC.
Gynandropsis palmipes DC.
Gynandropsis pentaphylla (L.) DC.
Gynandropsis sinica Miq.
Gynandropsis triphylla DC.
Gynandropsis viscida Bunge
Pedicellaria gynandra (L.) Chiov.
Pedicellaria pentaphylla (L.) Schrank
Pedicellaria triphylla (L.) Pax
Podogyne pentaphylla (L.) Hoffmanns.
Sinapistrum pentaphyllum (L.) Medik.
Common Name: African Spider Flower
African spider flower is an erect, strongly-branched, annual plant growing 60 - 130cm tall. The plant has a long taproot and few secondary roots[
The plant is harvested from the wild as a local source of food and medicines. It is also cultivated on a small scale in areas such as tropical Africa, SE Asia and the Caribbean, and the plant is sold in local markets[
]. It is often grown in gardens as an ornamental[
The oil in the seed is used as a fish-poison[
The seeds, thrown in water, can kill fish, which then float to the surface[
Tropical and Sub-Tropical zones.
Open areas, waste places, cultivated and uncultivated land; to an elevation of 300 metres in Nepal[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
A plant of the tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations up to 2,400 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 25°c, but can tolerate 10 - 35°c[
Prefers a light fertile soil in a warm dry sunny position with plenty of room to spread[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 5 - 7.5[
The plant is commonly cultivated as an ornamental, and sometimes as a food. It has often escaped from cultivation and is said to be invasive in many areas[
Cumulative leaf yields of 30 tonnes per hectare per season may be attained. Weekly leaf yields increase until about the 7th week of growth and then start to decline. By the 10th week of growth, yields have declined by about 90% and the harvest is stopped. The leaf bitterness increases with age as well[
A healthy crop in which two or three pickings of shoots have taken place may subsequently yield up to 500 kg of seed per hectare[
Leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb[
]. The bitter leaves are used as a vegetable after cooking, soaking or fermentation in order to reduce the bitterness[
]. They are also added to soups and stews, pickled, or used as a flavouring in sauces[
]. The leaves are said to provide a piquant taste, or a sourness, to the meal. They probably contain sinapin (could this mean sinalbin[
]), the substance which gives mustard its 'biting' taste. They are considered very good for the stomach and to have antiscorbutic properties[
]. The vitamin C content has been recorded at 6.0 mg per 100 gm dry weight. They are rich in minerals and the content of aluminium (at 1,390 ppm) and of iron (470 ppm), is unusually high[
The pungent seeds are sometimes eaten as a food when nothing better is available[
]. They are also used as a condiment where they are a substitute for mustard seeds [
The seeds contain around 17.6% oil. It is a good quality edible oil[
]. The seed contains an edible polyunsaturated oil, which is extracted by simple pressing and does not need refining[
Roots - cooked[
The leaves have various medicinal uses everywhere the plant occurs, mainly being applied externally. They are considered to be antirheumatic, disinfectant, rubefacient and vesicant[
An infusion is taken internally and as an enema in the treatment of bronchitis. A leaf-macerate, combined with pimento, is given as an enema for rheumatism[
The leaves are probably most commonly as a counter-irritant to relieve local pain, being either rubbed on to the affected area or used as a poultice. Some care needs to be exercised because, if left on the skin too long, the leaves can cause blisters. Conditions treated include rheumatism, lumbago, etc[
]. Another very common usage is as ear drops (often with oil added) to treat conditions such as otitis and earache[
]. This treatment can cause pain to the ears and eyes, so caution needs to be employed[
]. The leaf sap is used in minute quantities as an eyewash, and to treat inflamed eyes[
]. The leaves are rubbed on the hands and then inhaled like smelling salts as a remedy for headache - another headache cure, which is said to be effective in about five minutes, is to rub the leaves into small cuts on the temples, whilst the leaf sap is also given in nasal instillation[
]. An infusion of the leaves is used for bathing infants, while in general it is recognized as a revigorant and defatigant, especially in treating debilitation of old men[
]. A leaf-mash is warmed and laid on swollen armpit bubos and over the kidneys[
A decoction of the root is used to treat fevers[
]. The juice of the root is used to relieve scorpion stings[
The seeds are anthelmintic and rubefacient[
]. The oil from the seed (the report does not specify if it is the fixed or essential oil) is used to expel roundworms[
A seed capsule may be inserted into the outer ear as an effective method of softening and removing wax[
The whole plant is used in the treatment of scorpion stings and snake bites[
The seeds contain a substance called cleomin which is vermifugal[
The seed, and the plant as a whole, contains a volatile oil rich in senevol with properties resembling the sulphur derivatives found in garlic and mustard oils[
An essential oil is obtained from the plant[
]. The oil is rich in senevol, with properties resembling sulphur derivatives found in garlic and mustard oils[
An oil obtained from the seed can be used for making soap[
]. The oil is used as a hairdressing to kill lice[
The glands on the stems and leaves have insect repellent properties; cabbage and related crops intercropped with spiderplant suffer less from diamond back moth larvae. Similarly, in French bean intercropped with spiderplant, the beans are less affected by flower thrips and are therefore of better quality[
Seed - surface sow or only lightly cover the seed and keep moist[
]. The seed usually germinates in 5 - 14 days at 25°c[
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out when large enough. Day time temperatures below 20°c depress germination but a night time fall to 20°c is necessary[