Palmer's Cleomella, courtesy of Dr. Roger Banner, USU Extension
Photo courtesy of Dr. Roger Banner, USU Extension
Common Name(s):
Rocky Mountain
Palmer’s Cleomella
Scientific Name:
Cleomella palmeriana M.E. Jones
Scientific Name Synonyms:
Cleomella cornuta Rydb.
Cleomella montrosae Payson
Cleomella nana Eastw.
Life Span:  Annual

Origin: Native

Growth Characteristics: Cleomella has stems which are ascending to erect, widely branching from the base, glabrous, and often red-tinged.

Flowers: Flowers are yellow to yellow-orange and borne on individual stalks which are 5-6 mm long. The petals are 3-4 mm long and tipped with red in the bud. The upper two petals are often recurved. There are 6 stamens, the filaments are about twice as long as the petals, and the anthers are coiled when dry. The ovary is at the top of a small stalk.

Fruits/Seeds: Seeds are blunt or rounded at the top, the base is triangular. They are 2-5 mm long and 5-9 mm wide, growing on an often recurved, small stem which is 3-7 mm long. Seeds are few to several.

Leaves: Palmately compound (like a hand), with 3 leaflets, 9-20 mm long, 2-9 mm wide, elliptical to oblong or lance-oblong. Upper leaf bracts reduced to a bristle appearing growth.

Stems: 3 – 15 inches tall.

Ecological Adaptations:

Found on Mancos Shale, Tropic Shale, and Morrison Formation in desert shrub communities from 3900 to 6100 feet (1200-1850 m). A Colorado Plateau endemic limited to the Four Corners region, except for var. goodrichii Welsh with conspicuously horned fruits which is endemic to the Uinta Basin.

Soils: Usually found on shale.

Associated Species: Mat saltbush, Castle Valley Clover, Kochia

Uses and Management:
Cleomella aids in soil stabilization on highly erodible shale soils.