Devils claw: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information about devils claw

Harpagophytum procumbens, a member of the Pedaliaceae or Sesame family, and is a perennial herb with a succulent taproot. The annual, creeping stems can be up to 2 m long. They grow from a primary (or “mother” tuber) whose taproot can be up to 2 m deep. Secondary tubers (called “babies”) develop on fleshy roots growing from the primary tuber. They can be up to 25 cm long and 6 cm thick. The secondary tubers contain stachyose, a photosynthetic storage product, thought to be an adaptation to drought conditions. The leaves are simple and opposite, up to 6.5 cm long and 4 cm wide. They are deeply or shallowly lobed. The flowers are tubular, 5-6 cm long, and are normally light purple or pink (sometimes white), but yellow inside the tube. The fruits are large, up to 15 cm in diameter, and have four rows of curved arms with recurved spines. The seeds are dark brown or black. Devil's claw flowers in the summer (November to April) and fruits from January.

common names & nomenclature
The common name Devil’s Claw comes from the appearance of its hooked fruit. The hooks on the fruits can get entangled in animals’ fur and hooves, which aids dispersal of the seeds.

Harpagophytum is a Greek translation of the common name “grapple plant”. The specific epithet procumbens means prostrate, referring to the creeping stems of the plant.

Also known as:
grapple plant, wood spider, wool spider, harpago, duivelsklou, bobbejaandubbeltjie, kloudoring, veldspinnakop, teufelskralle, trampelklette, sengaparile, kanako, lekgagamare, ghamaghoe

Devils Claw, the sprawling scrub plant
Devils claw: Where in the World
habitat and range for devils claw

Native to South Africa, Harpagophytum procumbens is mainly found in the eastern and south eastern parts of Namibia, Southern Botswana and the Kalahari region of the Northern Cape, South Africa.

Devils claw: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting devils claw

Grows mostly in open, trampled and over-grazed lands where grass and herb cover is low, but can also be found in dry savanna or open woodland in full sun.

Grows typically in sandy, well-draining soils.

Sow seed in a trench during mid- to late summer. Then cover the seed with sand and water daily. Take the small tubers out of the trenches just before winter and store them. Then plant them out in October and November (early summer), 0.1 m deep and 0.5 m apart. Little fertilizer and water are needed. In fact, over watering may lead to fungus problems. Flowers should appear in about the second summer after planting out.

Wait 4 years for the first harvest when each plant should yield about 2 kg of fresh or ± 0.3 kg dry tuber.

Store dried devils claw root, either cut pieces or powder, in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.