Martyniaceae: Unicorn Plant Family

Proboscidea arenaria (or altheaefolia or parviflora)

Devil's Claw

Devils claw is a low growing vine-type plant with broad petioled leaves that are somewhat sticky feeling to the touch. The flowers are short-lived with quite showy large white blossoms that have a purplish and yellow center which opens wide enough for a whole bumblebee to enter. The plant seems to thrive in sandy washes and spreads somewhat like a gourd plant covering a fairly large area. The young fruit is eaten as a vegetable and the mature seeds are also edible. The devil's claw is related to the sesame family of plants.

The dried fruits of this plant have curved dehiscent prongs which seem to hook onto clothing and ankles if you happen to pass through a growing area. This persistent clinging tendency lends itself to seed transportation on the fetters of hoofed animals.

The Pueblo Indians strip fibers from the dried fruit to use as a dark contrasting band of color in their basket weaving. In the past years we collected the dried fruit pots for use in mom's craft projects, but I haven't seen any in our yard this year. If you would like to see devil's claw next year, perhaps a few of the seed pods should remain undisturbed where you find them.

Barbara Kishbaugh
October, 1992