Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Devil's Claw, Unicorn Plant, Ram's Horn
Proboscidea louisianica

Family: Pedaliaceae
Genus: Proboscidea (pro-bosk-ee-DEE-uh) (Info)
Species: louisianica (loo-ee-see-AN-ih-kuh) (Info)

Synonym:Martynia louisiana
Synonym:Martynia proboscidea
Synonym:Proboscidea jussieui
Synonym:Proboscidea louisiana

One vendor has this plant for sale.

23 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 28 photos.
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17 positives
4 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive chicojay On Jun 7, 2014, chicojay from Chico, CA wrote:

We had a ranch in the Dunnigan Hills and as a child I would see this around the countryside. My grandmother would save the claws and paint them, then put glitter or sequins on them and hang them on a manzanita branch. I was just about to pull one out and I had this wonderful memory. I felt the leave and it was soft like fur. I live in Chico, CA now and I do love the snap dragon, orchid like flower. I know it is probably more like a weed, but I think I am going to give this one a chance and just not let the seeds get away. The grandkids will love to decorate it..Jane

Negative rupalc On Jul 7, 2013, rupalc from Round Rock, TX wrote:

This plant secrets a nasty sticky substance. I have been struggling to rid my pastures of this plant here in Texas. Anyone know how to get the sticky slime off of clothes? I've searched everywhere and can't find any information.

Thank You!

Positive mutabalisnut On Jun 4, 2013, mutabalisnut from Eau Claire, WI wrote:

In Wisconsin, I struggle a bit to get it to germinate outdoors so I start them indoors with better success, but takes a while.
Great decoration for Halloween.

Positive wallyh On Mar 18, 2011, wallyh from Cincinnati, OH wrote:

I love this plant. I make sculptures from the dried pods. I grew 500 plants one year (1992) in Kentucky and I still have pods left. I grew 1 plant last year which yielded 36 pods. I just began pulling seeds from the pods and shall plant some more this year. I posted a photo to the database, not sure where it shows up.

Neutral funnymommy On Sep 4, 2009, funnymommy from Lebanon, PA wrote:

I had this strange stinky plant growing on the edge of one of my flower beds. Thought it was a pumpkin at first. No one could identify it for me. I asked a friend who is a biologist and she too was stumped. She took a pod to the Master Gardeners where she worked and they were puzzled. She collected a stalk with leaves and flowers and took it to them. After 2 days they identified it as a "Devils Claw". The funny part is that I live in Central Pennsylvania. She told me that the plant was native to western U.S. The only reason we can come up with is possibly the pod was used as a decoration and a bird got a seed and dropped it in my yard. I guess I'll leave it there for a while as a conversation piece, but it really does stink! Ha Ha

Positive daveyh On Jul 16, 2009, daveyh from West Bend, WI wrote:

This plant appered this spring. I'm sure it came from my birdfeeder. The chipmunks planted it for me. Looked like a hairy sunflower seedling. The flower looks like a beautiful orchid, but I can smell it from ten feet away and it smells like rotten soap. I got my nose so close, I brushed against a leaf and had to go wash, I couldn't stand the smell. I'll collect the seed and trade and plant next spring.

Positive Dorkasaurus On Mar 8, 2009, Dorkasaurus from Albuquerque, NM (Zone 7a) wrote:

Grows fine here, but not surprising given that some varieties are native to the desert southwest. Probably not considered a pretty plant by most people but I find them interesting. The pods are edible as are the seeds but I don't care for the taste much. As mentioned by others the pods are bitter and slimy. As a novelty it added a nice touch to my garden but if you grow them you really should make an effort to collect the pods as they will reseed and spread, not to mention nothing enjoys stepping on a dried pod.

Positive aleonmiler On Jul 8, 2008, aleonmiler from Socorro, NM wrote:

It tolerates the high ph we have in the New Mexico desert, and looks good. I pick the immature fruits and add them to the cucumbers when making kosher dills.
The mature pods can be annoying if they aren't cleaned up. I let a few go to seed in a safe place, and just move them in the spring when they sprout.

Positive SimbiDlo On Sep 20, 2007, SimbiDlo from Snyder, TX wrote:

I love the look of the plant, but it has spread through our pasture quickly ( I personly don't care but you know...) The pods were hiding in a giant bale of hay we had for our horses and it has been seeding off and on all summer. On the upside it has beautiful flowers and the "claws" can be used for all sorts of "tacky" crafts.

Neutral tubbss5 On Mar 16, 2007, tubbss5 from Aurora, IL wrote:

Can be nasty plant. Invasive. Sticky and slimey. Stinky. There are restriction on it being shipped to certain parts of the world. Check first!


Positive WUVIE On Feb 26, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

The first year I grew, or tried to grow, Devil's claws, I thought the seeds might have been bad. Little did I realize, the seeds require plenty of warmth to grow, and enough moisture to soften the odd seed coating they have.

The following year, the same seeds actually came up, this time I was observant enough to confirm seedling appearance, then transplant them where I might better care for them.

Though not a plant most would consider attractive, the flower is very unique and worth waiting for. Not a plant you want to fondle, as the foliage is very sticky. Not like 'honey on your fingers sticky' but more like 'eww' sticky.

The claws are so cute when they first begin growing. There are various types of Devil's claw, though the largest I have grown are the white seeded variety. The pods resemble chili peppers of a sort.

Once the pods mature and dry, they will split yet remain intact, housing dozens of seeds in the inner cavity as well as an additional tract of them beneath a very tough membrane.

Be very careful when extracting seeds, as the claws are indeed sharp and hurt like, well, you get the idea.

Very fun plant to grow if you are in the right climate.

Positive vicegrip On Jun 18, 2006, vicegrip from Bliss, NY wrote:

I discovered this plant through The International Carnivorous Plant Society. Yes, it's considered borderline or arguably carnivorous because of the slime that it secretes on it's leaves. Another common name for it is 'Devil's Snot'. That name alone inspired me grow it, and while I stick to Latin nomenclature almost 100% of the time, I will make the rare exception just to use the word "snot" whilst lecturing to my beloved Blue Hairs.

Positive tammy50 On Jun 17, 2006, tammy50 from Weatherford, TX wrote:

i live in west texas near weatherford, and there are more of these than weeds. they stink like underarm smell and when you touch the plant, it leaves a sticky residue on your hands. the flowers are beautiful. if anyone wants some, ill give you the seeds. we have all sand soil and grow everywhere.right now the pods are about 8 in long and getting bigger. still green. in fall they will start to crack and look like horns.

Positive Meandy On Aug 30, 2004, Meandy from Tipton, IN (Zone 5a) wrote:

I received seeds for this plant several years ago. It doesn't reseed in my climate (Indiana zone 5). Friends were quite intriqued with the claws. The biggest problem I have is that the seeds are extremely difficult to germinate. I have tried soaking and/or nicking the seeds but that doesn't seem to help.

Positive rainbowtoad On Aug 29, 2004, rainbowtoad from Wichita Falls, TX wrote:

Though this is considered a noxious weed in these parts, I've been facinated by this plant since I got one during show and tell in first grade. I found a plant growing wild at work last year and saved the seeds. It has come up in a sunny spot in my yard. Its very fragrant (in fact sickeningly sweet) and its pods seem to attach to my legs of their own accord.

Positive jtedor On Jul 20, 2004, jtedor from San Antonio, TX wrote:

Growing wild on our lot in Texas Hill Country, Bexar County, just north of San Antonio. Grows "like a weed"! Tolerant of heat and drought; not touched by deer, rabbits or other garden visitors. Unusual orchid-like flowers with little fragrance, although the entire plant has a very distinct aroma probably due to oily secretion on hairy leaves and stems.

Positive FredK On Jul 7, 2004, FredK from Folsom, CA wrote:

I have one specimen in my back yard--Folsom, CA. The backyard is an eclectic collection of shrubs and a few trees; no lawn to mow! The Devil's Claw came of its own accord. It is located beneath a hanging bird feeder so the seed perhaps came from the birdseed mix in the feeder, or perhaps from a bird who left his deposit.

Its' a handsome plant and my wife wanted to know, "What is it?" So, I looked it up in Jepson's manual of CA plants still hanging around from my student days at Humboldt State College. And I confirmed my lookup with the Plants Database! Good show!

Positive patzwriter On Mar 23, 2004, patzwriter wrote:

I write for kids, so this plant has fascinated me. I live in the southeastern plains of Colorado. We have devil's claw in pastureland near La Junta, CO.
Ranchers do not like them because they can really trap a cow's foot and do damage. The punctures cause sores that can lead to infection. My experience is that the claw has to be cut off, it won't break.

Neutral farizona On Oct 15, 2003, farizona from Bowie, AZ (Zone 8B) wrote:

This plant grows naturally here in Arizona. It seems to appear most often after our summer rains.

Several years ago I saw a demonstration of its use in basket making, it was used for a contrast in colors.

Positive Schoolmarm On Oct 14, 2003, Schoolmarm from Arlington, TX wrote:

The only place I've seen this unusual plant growing wild was in Iowa Park, Texas (up around Wichita Falls), in a farmer's field. This plant has the most remarkable seedpod,when dried, kind of bug-like with two, long hooked arms. They can grab hold of your leg, or a cow's leg. Kids like to play with 'em because they look so strange, almost alien, but if you get hooked, it can hurt. I brought a bunch of the pods home and saved the seeds, but have not tried to plant them yet. I've heard they're tough to start from seed. I'm open to suggestions. Thanks to Wingnut for the cool photos.

Positive Wingnut On Oct 6, 2003, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant makes an EXCELLENT trap plant for tomato hornworms. The year I first noticed this, I picked 48 worms off of four Unicorn Plants I had in my garden and only 6 or 8 worms off of the 180+ tomato plants over a two week period. Despite the worms feasting on the Unicorns, it didn't slow them down a bit.

This plant takes pruning well. If a branch grows somewhere it shouldn't, just snap it off.

With plenty of fertilizer and water, I've had these grow much larger than 3'x3' ~ the largest being 11' wide x 4 1/2' tall before it collapsed under it's own weight. I think they get that big here because of the heat. This plant definitely LOVES it hot and will sit there until temps get into the high 80s or 90s, much like okra.

This plant does reseed in my zone 8b garden if left to it's own devices, but the seedlings are easily identifiable (leaves are succulent-like, fuzzy and dark purple underneath) and very easy to pull.

Immature seed pods are edible, but I found them bitter. They are mucilaginous like okra.

Mature seed pods are used in crafts and basketmaking.

Neutral JJsgarden On Mar 21, 2001, JJsgarden from Northern Piedmont, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Proboscidea louisianica is a spreading plant grown for its unusual seedpods. It spreads about 18" and has tubular pinkish white flowers which may have purple or yellow spots. The leaves are large and heart-shaped.

It produces unusual seedpods which are curved ike a bird's beak. The curved ends are sharp and cling to anything. Other common names are "Unicorn Plant" and "Probosis Flower."


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Vincent, Alabama
Golden Valley, Arizona
Hereford, Arizona
Sonoita, Arizona
Sun City West, Arizona
Ashdown, Arkansas
Calistoga, California
Chico, California
Folsom, California
Menifee, California
Snyder, Colorado
Springfield, Colorado
Bartow, Florida
Lilburn, Georgia
Lewiston, Idaho
Tipton, Indiana
Osborne, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Princeton, Kentucky
Mason, Michigan
Little Falls, Minnesota
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Socorro, New Mexico
Cincinnati, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Tiller, Oregon
Lebanon, Pennsylvania
North Augusta, South Carolina
De Leon, Texas
Kerrville, Texas
Lake Dallas, Texas
Montague, Texas
Richardson, Texas
Round Rock, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Snyder, Texas
Spicewood, Texas
Weatherford, Texas
Wichita Falls, Texas
Onancock, Virginia
Ferndale, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Twin Lakes, Wisconsin
West Bend, Wisconsin

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