Description from Flora of China
Herbs, annual, sparsely branched, glandular pubescent or glabrous, lacking spines. Stipules absent or scalelike and caducous. Leaves alternate, spirally arranged, pinnately compound; petiole long or short, with a pulvinus at basal or distal end; leaflets [1 or]3-7[-11]; petiolule bases connate, forming a pulvinar disk; leaflet blades lanceolate to oblanceolate, margin entire or serrulate. Inflorescences terminal or axillary from apical leaves, racemose, sometimes flat-topped or elongated, elongating in fruit; bract present [or absent] at base of pedicels. Flowers slightly zygomorphic. Sepals 4, equal, connate for ca. 1/2 their length, each often subtending a basal nectary. Petals 4, distinct, equal. Stamens [4-]6, distinct; filaments inserted on a discoid or conical receptacle (androgynophore). Gynophore slender, elongating and recurving in fruit or sometimes obsolete; carpel 1; style 0.2-0.8 mm, thick; stigma 1, capitate. Fruit an oblong capsule, dehiscent. Seeds 10-40 per capsule, reniform, arillate or not; cleft fused between 2 ends of seed.
The center of diversity of Cleome is SW Asia with only one true Cleome naturalized in China. Other native and non-native species formerly included in Cleome are placed in Arivela, Cleoserrata, Gynandropsis, and Tarenaya following Iltis and Cochrane (Novon 17: 447-451. 2007).
About 20 species: Old World warm-temperate and tropical areas; one species (introduced) in China.