Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Dwarf Cleome, Clammy Weed, Clammyweed
Polanisia dodecandra

Family: Cleomaceae
Genus: Polanisia (pol-uh-NIS-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: dodecandra (doh-DEK-an-druh) (Info)

Synonym:Jacksonia trifoliata

14 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Blooms repeatedly


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 12 photos.
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6 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive deegens On Sep 17, 2011, deegens from Georgetown, TX wrote:

The seed for clammy weed just blew into our garden and did quite well reseeding itself for several years. It does have a strange smell, hence the name. This year it came in a pot from The WildFlower Center in Austin, Texas with some Texas Bluebells. The clammy weed got to 3 1/2 feet tall and wide. This summer was extremely hot-most of it over 100 degrees. This was one of the few things blooming in my yard with little water. The hummingbirds came to it every evening, I think, because there was so little blooming in the area. I don't know if they would have visited so regularly if the salvia, etc. had been in bloom.

Positive bellfoster On Jul 22, 2010, bellfoster from Spring, TX wrote:

I live in Spring, Texas and I planted this for the first time this year and it started out beautifully, but now the flower heads have become very small. Should I cut them back? They have bloomed continuously and are a very pretty color. I will plant them again.

Negative helco On Jul 25, 2009, helco from Champaign, IL wrote:

I've harvested and sown seeds from full-sized cleomes for several years. Last year one or two dwarf cleomes showed up (they're less than a quarter of the size of the regulars -- only about 8 to 10 inches tall), but this year the small cleomes far outnumber the full-sized ones, by at least 10 to 1. They're cute, but they're not what I want, as I like to use the cleomes to fill in empty spots between moderately tall perennials. I'll have to pull out the small ones before they produce pollen and hope that the tall ones then breed true.

Positive lepfarmer On Feb 2, 2009, lepfarmer from Red Oak, TX wrote:

Clammyweed is also an excellent nectar plant for various species of butterflies, as well as being a host plant for the Great Southern White (Ascia monuste). It reseeds easily, but if you want to harvest seed to share with others wait until the pod has dried and begun to crack open.

Positive angele On Mar 3, 2008, angele wrote:

Beautiful flower but a warning:
The leaves are sticky and moist-feeling to the touch. The foliage has a most unpleasant smell. I broke off a seedpod at the beginning of a hike and had nothing to clean the awful smell from my hands. The smell persisted till I got home & was able to wash my hands.

Positive htop On Oct 22, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Dwarf Cleome, Clammy Weed, Clammyweed, Redwhisker Clammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra) is a wide spread annual native of Texas as well as most other states. It is commonly found in various soils of the Edwards Plateau and South Texas Plains. It may be found in deserts, on plains, in open areas, as well as, along sandy stream banks, roadsides and disturbed areas. Clammy weed enjoys dry feet and prefers gravely, sandy soil which of course is well drained. If it hasn't received rain in a long period of time, give it a good soaking.

The entire margined, hairy, lanceolate leaves are palmately compound with 3 to five leaflets (usually 3), alternate and serve as butterfly larval food. Blooming in April or May and then through October, the clustered, 4-petaled, 1/4 to 5/8 inch long, unequal size flowers have a notched tip and pink to purple stamens. The petals may be white or in a color range from pinkish to rose to purple. The side petals are longer than the other 2. The fruit is an erect, slender pod that is about 2.5 to 3 inches long. Distinguishing it from Cleome which it resembles, the seed pods are upright. The cleomes are more horizontal or hang down. Clammyweed self-sows freely. The genus name, Polanisia, is dervived from "poly" meaning "many" and "ansos" for "unequal" which refers to how this differs from the stamens in Cleome. The species name "dodecandra" refers to its having twelve stamens. The name "clammyweed" refers to the , sticky, glandular pubescence that covers the plant. It is said that touching the foliage gives the fingers a "clammy" sensation.

Neutral JodyC On Jan 17, 2005, JodyC from Palmyra, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

Various bees visit the flowers for nectar, while flower flies feed on the pollen from the exerted anthers. However, the latter group of insects does not effectively pollinate the flowers. The foliage is not known to be toxic to mammalian herbivores, notwithstanding the fetid odor, but little appears to be known about the attractiveness of the foliage as a food source. Similarly, little is known about the attractiveness of the seeds to small rodents or upland gamebirds. Because the seeds of similar kinds of plants, such as the Cleome spp. (Bee Plants) in the western states, are occasionally eaten by the Ring-Necked Pheasant, Mourning Dove, and various small rodents, it is possible that the same or similar species also eat the seeds of Polanisia spp. (Clammyweeds).

Positive pyritesam On Apr 5, 2003, pyritesam from Houston, TX wrote:

I live in Houston and planted my 4" dwarf cleome a few days ago - flower buds are opening now! - (April 5) - Have grown the regular cleome for years with no problems - reseeds and jumps right up - great plant

Neutral talinum On Aug 9, 2001, talinum from Kearney, NE (Zone 5a) wrote:

Dwarf Cleome is only one-third to one-half the size of its larger cousin. The foliage is a darker green and the golf-ball sized flower heads are a milky-white with contrasting rosy-crimson stamens. The stems are thornless. Carefree and easy to grow.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Melbourne, Florida
Thomaston, Georgia
Valdosta, Georgia
Champaign, Illinois
Danville, Illinois
Derby, Kansas
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Erie, Michigan
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Lake Toxaway, North Carolina
Delaware, Ohio
Perrysburg, Ohio
Arlington, Texas
Frisco, Texas
Georgetown, Texas
Lipan, Texas
Red Oak, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Santo, Texas
Spring, Texas

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