Devil’s Claw Plant Info: Tips On Growing Proboscidea Devil’s Claw

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Devil’s claw (Martynia annua) is native to the southern United States. It is so-called because of the fruit, a long, curved horn with pointed ends. What is devil’s claw? The plant is part of a small genus called Martynia, of tropical to subtropical species, all of which bear a curved or beaked fruit that splits into two hemispheres shaped like claws. Devil’s claw plant info includes its other colorful names: unicorn plants, grappleclaw, rams’ horn, and double claw. They are easy to start from seed inside, but the plants grow best outdoors once they establish.

What is Devil’s Claw?

The plant’s family is Proboscidea, likely because the pods may also resemble a large nose. Devil’s claw is a sprawling plant with slightly hairy leaves, much like a pumpkin. There are two main varieties.

One is an annual with triangular leaves and white to pink blooms with mottled corollas. The yellow flowering type of devil’s claw is a perennial plant but has much the same characteristics. It also boasts hairy stems with a slightly sticky texture. The seed pod has a feral quality and tends to stick to pant legs and animal fur, transporting the seeds to new locations that are appropriate for growing Proboscidea devil’s claw.

Devil’s Claw Plant Info

Devil’s claw is found in hot, dry, disturbed sites. Proboscidea plant care is about as easy as caring for a weed, and the plant grows without any intervention in arid zones. The preferred method for growing Proboscidea devil’s claw is from seed. If you wish to plant it, you can gather seeds, soak them overnight, and then plant them in a sunny location.

Keep the seed bed moist until germination and then allow the soil to dry slightly between watering. Once the plant is mature, apply water only every two to three weeks. Suspend watering entirely when seed pods begin to form.

The plant is not susceptible to many pests or disease problems. If you choose to grow the plant indoors, use an unglazed pot with a mixture of topsoil and sand as your planting medium. Keep in a sunny, warm room and water only when the soil is completely dry.

Devil’s Claw Uses

Native people have long used devil’s claw plant for baskets and as a food item. The young pods resemble okra and Proboscidea plant care is indeed similar to okra cultivation. You can use the soft immature pods as a vegetable in stir-fries, stews, and as a cucumber substitute in pickles.

The longer pods were hunted and later cultivated for their use in baskets. The pods are buried to preserve the black color and then woven with bear grass or yucca leaves. Native people were very creative at coming up with devil’s claw uses for fixing and mending, fresh and dried food options, for connecting things, and as a toy for children.

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В англійській мові рослину називають «слонячі бивні» (англ. elephant tusks), «чортів кіготь» (англ. devil's claw) через дивної форми плід з гачками. Таку ж назву («чортів кіготь») мають африканські рослини роду Harpagophytum.

Науковці не можуть дійти згоди чи є Proboscidea fragrans підвидом Пробосцідеї луїзіанської Proboscidea louisianica subsp. fragrans. [1]

Однорічна залозисто-опушена рослина з довгим розгалуженим лежачим стеблом. Має великі широкоовальні, при основі серцеподібні черешкові листки. З пазух листків ростуть китиці з кількох великих квіток на довгих квітконіжках. Дзвіночкоподібні віночки — білуваті або жовтуваті, всередині — пурпурові або жовті. Плоди стручки мають міцні, здерев'янілі гачкоподібно загнуті вирости. Стручок містить 40 чорних насінин.

Завдяки гачкоподібним виростам на плодах — зачіпляється за кінцівки та хутро великих тварин і переноситься на великі відстані. Створює проблеми для вівчарства, оскільки заплутується у хутрі тварин.

Походить з південноого заходу США та Мексики.

Інвазійний вид, що поширився на Кавказі, Кубані по краях кукурудзяних полів та в заплавах. Зараз насіння розповсюджують коні і домашня худоба. В Україні був зафіксований у 1961 р. у Старобешівському районі Донецької області на полях радгоспу «Каракубський» агроном.

Молоді стручки їстівні після приготування. [2]

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

  • Back pain. Taking devil's claw by mouth seems to reduce low-back pain. Devil's claw seems to work about as well as some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Osteoarthritis. Taking devil's claw alone, with other ingredients, or along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) seems to help decrease osteoarthritis-related pain. Some evidence suggests that devil's claw works about as well as diacerhein (a slow-acting drug for osteoarthritis that is not available in the U.S.) for improving osteoarthritis pain in the hip and knee after 16 weeks of treatment. Some people taking devil's claw seem to be able to lower the dose of NSAIDs they need for pain relief.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early research shows that taking devil's claw extract by mouth might not improve RA.
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • Sharp chest pain upon breathing (pleuritic chest pain).
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Gout.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Migraine.
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia).
  • Fever.
  • Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea).
  • Irregular periods.
  • Difficulties during childbirth.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of a tendon (tendinitis).
  • Allergies.
  • Kidney and bladder disease.
  • Wound healing, when applied to the skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate devil's claw for these uses.

Yucca is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in the amounts normally found in foods. Yucca is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth short-term. It might cause stomach upset in some people.

Not enough is known about the safety of taking yucca by mouth long-term or applying it to the skin. Some people develop allergic reactions to yucca. Symptoms may include skin rash and difficulty breathing.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking yucca if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Landscape and Indoor Uses

Devil's ivy has a variety of uses in the landscape. You can allow it to climb a tree to get the true tropical effect of its large leaves, use it on a fence or let it hang down a wall, plant it in large containers and hanging baskets or use it as a ground cover. Exercise caution when planting devil's ivy close to shrubs or hedges, though, due to its aggressive growth tendencies. The vines will quickly grow into the shrub or hedge and eventually take over. Be aware as well that when it's used as a ground cover, devil’s ivy requires frequent pruning to keep it within a boundary. If you plant multiple devil’s ivy plants, allow about 3 feet between them.


In some locations, devil’s ivy is invasive, smothering out native vegetation.

Grown indoors, devil’s ivy adds lush greenery to hanging baskets, tabletop planters or planters with attached trellises for the vines to climb. Trimmed portions will even grow in a container of water, and the plant is well-suited for kitchen and bathroom environments. According to Floridata, one of the benefits of growing devil’s ivy as a houseplant is its ability to remove some pollutants from indoor air. Prune indoor vines frequently using sterilized pruning tools to help control their size.

To help prevent the spread of disease, always sterilize your pruners before and after use by wiping the blades with a clean cloth or paper towel moistened with rubbing alcohol.


Make sure to know the botanical name as well as common names of plants, as some go by the same common name.

Keep contact information for your regular veterinarian and local emergency vet clinic handy.

When possible, take a picture or bring a sample of the suspected poisonous plant to your veterinarian for positive identification, which will assist in rendering the appropriate treatment.

If you believe your dog or cat has ingested a poisonous plant, call these 24-hour resources for immediate advice:

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435 (a consultation fee may apply)
  • 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center: (855) 764-7661
  • Or your regular vet or local emergency clinic

Seek professional advice immediately, as delaying treatment can result in worsening symptoms or even death.

For a more comprehensive plant list, see the ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants List.

Watch the video: Devils Claw impromptu foraging session

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