Proboscidea Species, Louisiana Devil's Claw, Ram's Horn, Unicorn Plant

Proboscidea louisianica

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



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Unknown - Tell us

Foliage Color:



24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


Not Applicable

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

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

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Vincent, Alabama

Golden Valley, Arizona

Hereford, Arizona

Sonoita, Arizona

Sun City West, Arizona

Ashdown, Arkansas

Calistoga, California

Chico, California

Citrus Heights, California

Folsom, California

Menifee, California

Sanger, California

Santa Cruz, California

Snyder, Colorado

Springfield, Colorado

Bartow, Florida

Lilburn, Georgia

Lewiston, Idaho

Tipton, Indiana

Marquette, Kansas

Osborne, Kansas

Barbourville, Kentucky

Princeton, Kentucky

Mason, Michigan

Little Falls, Minnesota

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico(2 reports)

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 10, 2018, LittleJohnny from Marquette, KS wrote:

When I was growing up on the farm with beef cattle, we hated the Devil Horn/Claw. The dried seed pod would get lodge into cattle's nose. Then we had to walk up the poor cow and remove the seed pod because the cow could not eat or drink very well with thing hanging from her nose. I have seen cats and dogs get the seed pod caught into the body's fur. I would have to cut the seed pod out.

The pod is very tough and not easy cut even with side cutters pliers.
When walking around the farm and we see the plant or pods we pick them and place into the fire barrel.

You can Salina, Kansas to your list of places where they grow. Here the plant grows wild and usually along fence lines or along wooded area but out in the sun. Any place where the plow doesn't ... read more


On Jun 20, 2018, Parabolst from Sanger, CA wrote:

My property is the only property on the block that has this weed on it. I live in Sanger/ fresno county , California. And our property is one of the only places I habe seen it maybe the random empty field once in a great while. It's a weird weed because they are all both male and female. It grows like wild fire but doesn't start until after all the rain is over and ground dries out really take a off June through July starts blossoming in June. These things are truly devil's claw they dried pods get caught in my pants socks and all in my horses mane and tails. They are a nightmare. Luckily with the shallow root system the box scraper easily up roots them and drags them away I almost got them completely out of my pasture and I isolated them to by the road and 1 pile area where I dump dirty d... read more


On Dec 18, 2017, BZBBlue from Hereford, AZ wrote:

I live on a family ranch that shares 10 miles of the border with Mexico. The Devil's Claw is prolific in the Palominas & Hereford AZ area. My aunt would make Devil's Claw Rudolf red nose reindeer out of the claw. I have inherited that craft. The plant grows like gang busters during our monsoon season and has completed its metamorphosis into it's "claw" by late fall. I just harvested & filled a 50 lb dog food bag off of three large plants. Merry Christmas & God+ Bless all y'all in your growing season.


On Aug 2, 2016, littlewhootsie from Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I used to live in Chico (CA) and the plant grew VERY well there in the heat and all. Now, I'm in Santa Cruz (CA) & it's growing this year, but slower than in Chico and in POTS b/c I don't really have the ground space where I live. This plant for me is/was NOT invasive. It probably would be, if you let the interesting seed pods dry & crack & the seeds pop out, but the pods don't readily just crack open and seeds fall out all over the place. Maybe if you had 10 in an area or something and all the pods cracked open and the seeds fell out. Also, it's a sort of upright plant for me--you can stake it to see the blooms better. And those pods! Amazing things that they are. If you are an artist, there are SO MANY uses for them. They also just make an interesting decoration for wreaths or a... read more


On Sep 11, 2015, mmskye from Roswell, NM wrote:

I'm glad to find this site. My Niehbor this year had a devils horn plant pop up in his garden. Who knows were the seed came from. I was so excited when he brought me a couple of pods. I asked if I could get more since I am a artist and wanted to make some things. So I have the whole plant now sitting in my back yard. I hope to grow them next year. I also have been looking into other uses for the plant and have found the rots and stalks are medicinal. Very cool.


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


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!


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!



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 gro... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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 res... read more


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."