Herb: Rocky Mountain Beeplant

Latin name: Cleome serrulata

Family: Capparidaceae (Caper Family)

Medicinal use of Rocky Mountain Beeplant:

An infusion of the plant is drunk in the treatment of fevers and stomach disorders. A poultice made from the pounded, soaked leaves has been applied to sore eyes.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Waste land, plains and lower mountains, often on sandy soils.

Edible parts of Rocky Mountain Beeplant:

Young shoots, leaves and flowers are cooked and used as potherbs. The plants were gathered and, after removing an alkaline taste, were eaten with cornmeal porridge. The plant smells like a skunk, but it was an important potherb for the native North American Indians and the early European settlers in America. Seed - raw or cooked. It can be dried and ground into a meal then used as a mush or mixed with flour to make bread etc. Seedpods - cooked. The hardened cakes of dyestuff (see note on the plants other uses) can be soaked in hot water and then eaten fried.

Other uses of the herb:

A black dye is obtained by boiling down the whole plant. It is used as a paint for decorating pottery. The young plants are harvested in mid-summer, boiled well in water, the woody parts of the plant are removed and the decoction is boiled again until it becomes thick and turns black. This thick liquid is then poured onto a board to dry in cakes and can be kept for an indefinite period. When needed it is soaked in hot water until the correct consistency for paint is achieved. A decoction of the leaves has been used as a body and shoe deodorant.

Propagation of Rocky Mountain Beeplant:

Seed - surface sow or only lightly cover the seed in spring in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 5 - 14 days at 25C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring. Day time temperatures below 20C depress germination but a night time fall to 20 is necessary.

Cultivation of the herb:

Waste land, plains and lower mountains, often on sandy soils.

Known hazards of Cleome serrulata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.