Cleome gynandra L. is one of the traditional leafy vegetables in Africa and Asia providing essential minerals and vitamins to the diet and income of resource poor communities. Despite these benefits, the crop has not been studied extensively resulting in lack of scientific information to guide crop improvement research and associated agronomic practices. The taxonomy of the crop, its reproductive behaviour, genome size, ploidy level and origin are neither readily available nor well understood. This paper reviews existing literatures in these areas to provide information for future research and development of the crop. Reading the review, one could appreciate the taxonomic classification of the genus is still under debate despite recent molecular studies that placed the crop in the Cleomaceae family as opposed to previous studies that classified it under Capparaceae family. According to present review the crop belongs to the Kingdom of Plantae, Phylum spermatophyta, Division Magnoliophyta, Class Magnoliopsida, Order Brassicales and the Family of Cleomaceae. Different genome sizes of C. gynandra have been reported which still warrant further investigation. Various studies reported different ploidy levels including diploid, triploid and polyploid indicating the need of further investigation to clarify the taxonomy, genome size and ploidy level(s) of the crop.
Key words: Chromosome, genome size, indigenous leafy vegetables, morphology, ploidy level, spider plant.
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