Cleome gynandra L.

Last updated: 08 Feb 2017

Scientific Name

Cleome gynandra L.


Cleome acuta Schumach. & Thonn., Cleome affinis (Blume) Spreng. [Illegitimate], Cleome alliacea Blanco, Cleome alliodora Blanco, Cleome blumeana D.Dietr., 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 muricata (Schrad.) Schult. & Schult.f., Cleome oleracea Welw., Cleome pentaphylla L., Cleome pentaphylla var. glabra Kuntze, Cleome pubescens Sieber ex Steud., Cleome rosea Eckl. ex Steud. [Invalid], Cleome triphylla L., Gymnogonia pentaphylla (L.) R. Br. ex Steud., 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 ophitocarpa DC., Gynandropsis palmipes DC., Gynandropsis pentaphylla (L.) DC., Gynandropsis pentaphylla Blanco, 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. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Maman [2]
English African herbage, bastard mustard, cat whiskers, cat’s whiskers, kaffir-cabbage, spider flower, spider herb, spider wisp, spiderplant, wild spider flower [2]
China Bai hua cai [2]
India Acakanta, acakantam, acanrika, anasarisha, acakanti, ayirapatam, caravella, cattiravan, curacapirutam, ghandhatu, hulhul, jakhiya, kanavelai, karaila, kavilai, kaykantitam, kenta, kiloni, maamballi gida, motithiavan, nallavelai, pantumai, parpari, porramaram, safed-bagra, safed hurhur, sooryavarta, taivelai, taruvali, tilapanni, uluvacakenti, vaaminta, varvar, venmai, yetakoora [2]
Indonesia Bhubhuwan, bobowan, enceng-enceng [2]
Thailand Phak sian khaao, phak som sian [2]
Laos Siènz [2]
Philippines Apoy-apoyan, apuy-apuyan, balabalanoyan, halaya, hulaya, tantandok [2]
Cambodia Momiënh [2]
Vietnam M[af]n m[af]n tr[aws]ng, m[aaf]n ri tr[aws]ng [2]
Japan Fû-chô-sô [2]
Saudi Arabia Abu qarn [2]
Africa Akeyo, chinsaga, dek, ecaboi, ejjobyo, eshogi, eyoboyo, mchicha, sake (East), oorpynpeultjie, palmbossie, snotterbelletjie, vingerblaartee, amazombe, lerotho, lude, murudivi, tsuna [2]
Hawaii Honohina, ‘ili’ohu [2]
Angola Musambe, muzambwe, omphungu [2]
Congo Mangayo [2].

Geographical Distributions

Cleome gynandra is considered native to Asia, but is widely distributed as a weed in the Old World tropics and has also been introduced into tropical America. It has been brought into cultivation in Asia and Africa, but is only of local importance. [3]

Botanical Description

C. gynandra is a member of the family Cleomaceae. It is an erect annual herb that can grow up to 1 m tall. [3]

The stem is usually widely branched and densely covered with glandular hairs. [3]

The leaves are arranged alternate, normally palmately compound, with 5 leaflets with the lowest and upper leaves having 3 leaflets, while the smaller ones towards and in the inflorescence. The petiole is 2-10 cm long while the petiolules are 1-3 mm. The leaflets are obovate to lance-shaped, measuring 2-7.5 cm x 1-3.5 cm and narrowly wedge-shaped at the base, ob­tuse to short-acuminate at apex, ciliate to denticu­late and thinly herbaceous. [3]

The inflorescence is an elongat­ed, terminal, leafy and few-to many-flowered raceme. The flowers are white or tinged with purple. The pedicel is 1.5-2.5 cm long. The 4 free sepals are ovate to lance-shaped and measuring 2.5-6 mm x 0.5-2 mm. There are 4 petals which are elliptical to obo­vate, measuring 7-15 mm x 1.5-4 mm and with slender claw 1.5-5 mm long. The androgynophore is 9-16 mm. There are 6 sta­mens and purple anthers. The ovary is on a slender stalk (gynophore) which is 1-2 mm long in flower and accrescent to 10 mm in fruit. [3]

The fruit is a long, narrow and cylindrical capsule, measuring 2-11 cm x 3-6 mm. It is on a pedicel 1-3 cm long and with a beak 1-4 mm long that splits from below into 2 valves. [3]

The seeds are numerous, depressed-globular, measure about 1 mm in diametre, dark brown, with a shallow and narrow cleft and irregular­ly ribbed. [3]


C. gynandra is a common weed along roadsides, on dikes of rice fields, and   sandy bor­ders of rivers. It occurs from the lowlands up to 500 m and flowers and fruits year-round. It grows best in full sunlight and rich soils where there is plenty of room to spread. C. gynandra has a C4-cy­cle photosynthetic pathway, which exhibits high photosynthesis at high temperature and radia­tion. It is rather drought-resistant and sensitive to waterlogging. [3]

Chemical Constituent

C. gynandra has been reported to contain 7-phenoxycoumarin, apegenin, ß-sitosterol, cleogynol, cleomin, glucocapparin, hexcosanol, kaempferol, lactone-cleome-olide, linoleic acid, myristic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, peduletin, stearic acid, viscosic acid, and viscosin [4][5].

Plant Part Used

Leaves, root, seed. [6][7]

Traditional Use

C. gynandra is used as a vegetable either fresh or pickles. It is believed that it has medicinal properties which could ally many ailments when taken as vegetable renders it very nutritious. The leaves when crushed and decocted could help prevent scurvy. Leaves boiled and marinated in sour milk makes a medicinal meal that could help improve eyesight, provide energy and cure marasmus. For pregnant ladies eating the vegetable could reduce dizzy spells, when take regularly it will ease childbirth by reducing the duration of labour and subsequently hasten recovery postnatal. When the need to suppress lactation arises, the leaves are boiled in water and drank. [4][8]

The decoction of C. gynandra leaves or roots is used to treat stomachache and constipation. The leaves are considered as anthelmintic and are used in decoction to treat thread-worm infestation in children. [6][7]

It was reported that the infusion of the seeds is a good remedy for cough [4]. Sushruta, the famous and well known India surgeon of antiquity, made use of the whole plant in a potherb to treat haemoptysis, fever, cough and asthma.[7] For the treatment of pneumonia it had been advocated that the leaves be rubbed onto the skin of the chest however, care must be taken to remove the poultice before blistering occurs. Decoction of the leaves or roots could help relieve chest pains. [4][8][9]

The sap of the leaves is considered an analgesic and is used in the treatment of headaches, neuralgia, otalgia, rheumatism and other local pains. In these cases a poultice is prepared by bruising the plant and applying over the affected area. Again it is cautioned that the poultices should be removed before blistering occurs. The leaves also are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties which are useful in the treatment of the above conditions. Both these properties are taken advantage of when treating venomous bites of snakes and scorpions. The leaves are applied over abscesses to prevent suppuration. [4][8]

The leaves and roots are used to treat uterine complains. To help ease childbirth, a decoction of the whole plant (leaves and/or roots) is given during delivery. It is believed that continuing taking this decoction during the postpartum period would help hasten the process of recovery. [4][8][9][10]

Preclinical Data


Anti-inflammatory activity

A study on the anti-inflammatory activity of alcoholic extracts of G. gynandra in Freund’s complete adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats. In an earlier study of the methanol extract, it was found that there was a significant anti-inflammatory activity together with reversal of haematological and biochemical parameters after a treatment period of 30 days. Their study on the ethanol extracts further demonstrated that the anti-inflammatory effects could be due to its stabilizing action of lysosomal membranes thereby preventing the spread of inflammation. The presence of many biologically active compounds like triterpenes, tannins, anthroquinones, flavonoids, saponins, steroids, resins, lectins, glycosides, sugars, phenolic compounds and alkaloids in the extracts could attribute to the anti-inflammatory activity. [11][12]

Analgesic activity

In a study to determining the antinociceptive activity of G. gynandra leaves it was found the ethanol and aqueous extracts were the most active. Ghagare et al. suggested that the antinociceptive activity involved the opioid receptors as evidenced by the fact that the hot plate test was blocked by naloxone. They found flavonoids and tannins in the active extracts which they believed could be responsible for this activity. [13]

Antitoxidant activity

It was found that the administration of G. gynandra leaf extract was able to increase levels of lipid peroxides and the activities of catalase, glutathione peroxidase and decrease the levels of reduce glutatione and superoxide dismutase activity is arthritic rats. The free radical scavenging activity of the plant was further evidenced by histological observations on the limb tissue [14]. Sivanesan et al. further found the leave extracts could diminish the rate of lipid peroxidation, with a significant increase in levels of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant following administration of aflatoxin B1 [15].

Cytotoxic activity

The CH3OH-CH2Cl2 extract of G. gynandra contain six cancer cell growth inhibitors i.e. apegenin and 5 flavonols. The five flavonols were found to inhibit murine P388 lyphocytic leukemia cells line while all six flavonoids exhibited activity against a panel of six human cancer cell lines [16]. Bala et al. recently explored the anticancer activity of methanol extract of G. gynandra. Their results showed a significant decrease in tumour volume, tumour weight, viable cell count, and elevated life span of Erlich Ascites Carcinoma bearing mice. The haematological profile returned to normal. This indicate that the extract has a potent anticancer activity in a dose dependent manner and which is comparable to 5-fluorouracil [17].

Enzyme metabolism activity

A significant increase in key glycolytic enzymes (hexokinase and phosphoglucoisomerase) and a significant decrease in gluoneogenic enzymes (glucose-6-phosphatase and fructose-`1,5-biphosphatase) was seen in aflatoxin B1-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in rats. Sivanesan et al. administered extract of G. gynandra and found that these pathological processes were reversed to near normal levels suggesting that it has a definite modulating role on the key enzymes of glucose metabolism in hepatocellular carcinoma. This modulatory effect is attributed to the phytoactive constituents present in the extract. [17]

Antimicrobial activity

Penduletin and apegenin were amongst the flavonoids isolated from the CH3OH-CH2Cl2 extract of G. gynandra. Peduletin was found to ihibit the growth of the Gram-negative pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoea and apegenin inhibited the growth of Gram-positive opportunist Enterococcus faecalis. [11]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of C. gynandra [3].


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Cleome gynanda L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2017 Feb 08]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 303-305.
  3. Windadri FI. Cleome gynandra L. In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, The Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 2001; p. 170.
  4. Khare CP. Indian herbal remedies: Rational Western therapy, Ayurvedic, and other traditional usage, botany. German: Springer, 2004; p. 240-241.
  5. Das PC, Patra A, Mandal S, et al. A novel dammarane triterpenoid from Cleome gynandra. J Nat Prod. 1999;62(4):616-618.
  6. Chweya JA, Mnzava NA. International plant genetic resources institute, Cat's whiskers, Cleome gynandra L. Rome: Bioversity International, 1997; p. 8-23.
  7. Vardhana R. Direct uses of medicinal plants and their identification. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2008; p.165.
  8. Waithaka K, Chweya JA. Gynandropis gynandra (L.) Briq: A tropical leafy vegetable, its cultivation and utilization. Rome: Food & Agriculture Org, 19991; p.3-32.
  9. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Traditional food plants: A resource book for promoting the exploitation and consumption of food plants in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid lands of Eastern Africa. Rome: Food & Agriculture Org., 1988; p. 204.
  10. Grubben GJH. Vegetables: Volume 2 of Plant resources of tropical Africa. Netherlands: PROTA, 2004; p.192.
  11. Bala A, Kar B, Haldar PK, Mazumder UK, Bera S. Evaluation of anticancer activity of Cleome gynandra on Ehrlich's ascites carcinoma treated mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010;129(1) :131-134
  12. Narendhirakannan RT, Kandaswamy M, Subramanian S. Anti-inflammatory activity of Cleome gynandra L. on hematological and cellular constituents in adjuvant-induced arthritic rats. J Med Food. 2005 S;8(1):93-99.
  13. Ghogare UR, Nirmal SA, Patil RY, Kharya MD. Antinociceptive activity of Gynandropsis gynandra leaves. Nat Prod Res. 2009;23(4):327-333.
  14. Narendhirakannan RT, Subramanian S, Kandaswamy M. Free radical scavenging activity of Cleome gynandra L. leaves on adjuvant induced arthritis in rats. Mol Cell Biochem. 2005;276(1-2):71-80.
  15. Sivanesan D, Begum VH. Preventive role of Gynandropsis gynandra L., against aflatoxin B1 induced lipid peroxidation and antioxidant defense mechanism in rat. Indian J Exp Biol. 2007;45(3):299-303.
  16. Pettit GR, Meng Y, Herald DL, Stevens AM, Pettit RK, Doubek DL. Antineoplastic agents 540. The Indian Gynandropsis gynandra (Capparidaceae). Oncol Res. 2005;15(2):59-68.
  17. Sivanesan D, Begum VH. Modulatory effect of Gynandropsis gynandra L. on glucose metabolizing enzymes in aflatoxin B1-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in rats. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2007;44(6):477-80.