South California and south-central Nevada
Rocky, sandy or alkaline locations in desert areas; up to 5,500 feet
Pinnately divided into 3 obovate leaflets, these up to 0.6 inches long
Flowers of cleomella obtusifolia are unusually asymmetric; they have four yellow petals, about a quarter of an inch long, occupying less than 180 degrees of a full circle. Petals are clawed (noticeably narrow at the base), and lightly hairy underneath. At the center are six stamens and a style topped by a small, egg-shaped stigma, all somewhat longer than the petals. Beneath the petals are four tiny, greenish, ovate sepals, which are hairy, especially along the margins. Flowers are attached by stalks of up to 1 inch.
The thick stems initially grow upwards, but often become prostrate when old. Leaves are divided into a pair of side leaflets and a terminal leaflet. The lower surfaces of the leaves have a sparse covering of spreading, bristly hairs. Flowers form singly at the upper leaf nodes, and in a compact, flat-topped cluster at the tip of the stem; in this, buds at the outside of the cluster mature first.