January Plant of the Month: Devil's Claw

If you are an avid hiker like myself, you have certainly come across Devil's Claw at some point or other on your treks around the desert. Devil's Claw (Proboscidea) is a flowering plant of the Martyniaceae family, although you're probably more familiar with it in it's dried form. This robust plant is native of the southwestern United States and is particularly prolific in Arizona. Native tribes of the southwestern United States have been cultivating Devil's Claw for many years. The long, stem-like fruit of the Devil's Claw has been used in basket weaving by these native cultures since cultivation began.

But Devil's Claw is a multi-faceted plant. When most people think of Devil's Claw, they think of the mature, dried fruit of the plant that is woody and incorporated in baskets, wreaths or other sculpture. But this same fruit that makes for such durable structure is a desert delicacy when still in it's green stage. The steamed fruit is reminiscent of okra, packed with protein rich seeds. It's this multi-dimensional quality that has endeared it to desert dwellers for as long as there have been desert dwellers.

Thinking about Devil's Claw in a more modern context, I would like to recommend it's use as a landscaping ornamental. It is an annual, but has developed is particularly adept at re-seeding itself. Not to mention, it is absolutely gorgeous in it's flowering state. The blooms are reminiscent of a trumpet flower in the most delicate shades of tropical pink. This hearty desert plant requires little water or attention. It's adapted to thrive in our ecosystem. Native Seeds/SEARCH offers seven different varieties of Devil's Claw for landscaping or vegetable gardening.

Think this beautiful plant would make a welcome addition to your garden? Contact me for a complimentary consultation to see how we can include more native plants into your outdoor space. La Fleur Plantscapes + Fresh Flora is committed to providing Tucson with the best in sustainable plantscaping.