Devil’s Claw (Proboscidea parviflora)

Map of Arizona. Counties are colored green where the species may be found.
Mirabilis longiflora range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Devil's claw green seedpods.
Devil's claw green seedpods. Photo by M. Falk.

Devil's claw flower.
Devil's claw flower. Photo by M. Falk.

Devil's claw plant.
Devil's claw plant. Photo by M. Falk.

This unusual annual plant is also a summer bloomer. Devil’s claw leaves are very sticky and covered with fine hairs. You will know immediately if you brush against it.

In areas with sufficient rainfall, this herb can be bush-like, up to 3 feet in height. It produces lovely pink flowers, followed by large, curved, distinctive pods. Devil’s claw blooms from August thru October and is found near washes, gravelly flats, and rocky slopes, up to 5,000 feet in elevation.

The Tohono O’odham uses the dried, split seedpods in their finely woven baskets. The dried fibers of the pods provide the black color seen in their basket designs.

The hooks on the end of the split seedpod, along with the sticky hairs, catch on the legs of passing animals (or humans). In this way, the seeds are dispersed to other areas away from the parent plant.