Annuals or perennials, 30-100 cm. Stems sparsely branched, (often decumbent); glabrous or glabrescent to slightly scabrous (sometimes glandular-pubescent). Leaves: stipules 0-0.5 mm; petiole (winged proximally), 0.5-3.5 cm; leaflets 3, blade oblanceolate to rhombic-elliptic, 1-3.5 × 0.5-1.7 cm, margins entire or serrulate-ciliate, apex usually acute to obtuse, sometimes acuminate, surfaces with curved hairs on veins abaxially, glabrous adaxially. Racemes 2-4 cm (8-15 cm in fruit); bracts trifoliate, 10-35 mm. Pedicels 11-21 mm (18-30 mm in fruit). Flowers: sepals yellow, lanceolate, 2.5-4 × 0.2-0.3 mm, margins denticulate, ciliate, glabrous; petals white or purple-speckled (2 central ones with yellow transverse band abaxially), oblong to narrowly ovate, 7-10 × 1.5-2.3 mm; stamens yellow, 5-7 mm; anthers 1-2 mm; gynophore 4-12 mm in fruit; ovary 2-3 mm, glabrous; style 0.5-1.4 mm. Capsules 40-70 × 3-4 mm. Seeds 4-25, reddish brown to black, reniform, 1-1.5 mm, arillate. Flowering ± year-round. Roadsides, vacant lots, canal banks, lawn edges in sun or shade; 0-200 m; introduced; Fla., S.C.; tropical Asia; Africa; introduced also in Mexico, West Indies, Central America, South America. Cleome rutidosperma has sometimes been misidentified as Hemiscola aculeata (Cleome aculeata); it lacks the nodal spines of that species.