Devil's Claw (Proboscidea parviflora var. hohokamiana)

Common names:
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Annual
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Water Preferences: Dry Mesic
Suitable Locations: Xeriscapic
Resistances: Drought tolerant


Posted by valleylynn (Dallas, OR - Zone 8b) on Aug 28, 2014 4:42 PM

Proboscidea parviflora var. hohokamiana is considered an annual in its native habitat. It is believed by ethnobotanists to have been domesticated by the women of the Tohono O’odham of southern Arizona. From each crop, they would choose seeds from pods that produced longer capsules for the next year's planting. Over time, they chose seeds that produced the longer capsules and seeds that germinated faster.
Seeds are rich in oil and protein and are edible, as are the fleshy fruits, which are sometimes pickled.

This species is easy to distinguish from P. altheaifolia by both the blooms and the seeds.
P. altheaifolia has 2-inch-long, bright yellow flowers, and is a perennial. The seeds are black.
The seeds can take several years to germinate.
P. parviflora var. hohokamiana has purplish/pink blooms and black seeds, and is an annual.

Both have foliage that hugs the ground and is heliotropic (follows the sun).

The plant became so important in basket making that it spread to over 25 native cultures. The seed pods are still used in craft making.

Native plant found in disturbed dry places below about 3200 feet in the
deserts of southwestern California to Arizona,
southern Nevada, to western Texas and northern

An interesting explanation of how the seed pods were used in basket making. http://www.statemuseum.arizona...

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Posted by Xeramtheum (Summerville, SC - Zone 8a) on Dec 16, 2012 2:07 PM

Proboscidea parviflora var. hohokamiana is considered a weed .. a bad one at that. It's also considered a proto-carnivorous plant though the jury is still out on that .. it's not unusual to see dead insects trapped on the leaves but so far no 'digestive' juices have been found on this plant. It could be considered 'carnivorous' in another way though.

The flower is gorgeous though the scent is really icky .. I can't keep these in the greenhouse when in bloom because they smell so bad! The immature seedpod is edible while still green - it gets about 6 - 8 inches long. Once mature, the green bits fall off and you are left with this very scary looking hard pod. When the pod splits it becomes terrifying! The points are like needles. The individual 'teeth' on the pod are serrated and very, VERY sharp. I can attest to that.

When open, the first set of seeds in the pod falls right out. The second and third sets of seeds hang on to the pod for a long time. One reason it is considered carnivorous is that passing animals will get caught on a pod, which will embed itself into flesh. Large animals like cows can be hurt by these pods. Smaller animals that have a pod attached to them can actually die. When they try to bite it off them, they end up embedding it even further into their flesh and the serrated 'teeth' will lacerate their mouths. Ultimately the animal is either maimed severely or dies of infection or blood loss. That's when the 2nd & 3rd set of seeds fall out of the pod and germinate in the decaying flesh of its victim.

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Posted by chelle (N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b) on Jul 7, 2015 1:05 PM

*Cautionary Comment*

This plant can self-sow here in the Midwest, zone 5b. Overwintered seed in last year's growing container sprouted in June. This was a controlled experiment designed to learn more about safety issues regarding this plant. I'm sharing the results here so that other growers may realize the importance of using sound judgement in growing practices, including containment and thorough seed collection.

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Plant Events from our members
chelle On June 17, 2015 Plant emerged
(Estimated sprouting date)
Self-sown seedling observed in last year's container.
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