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Devils Claw Purple flowered

Devils claw fruits

     


family

Martynaceae

status

Purple-flowered devil's claw (Proboscidea louisianica) is listed as noxious in class 4 in Southern Slopes LCA.

Description

An erect annual herb 20-50cm high. Stems are branched from ground level, hollow, covered with glandular hairs which exude a sticky sap. Leaves are large, round to heart-shaped. 5-25cm across, on long stalks and also covered in glandular hairs. Flowers are trumpet-shaped, creamy white to mauve or purple with dark purple and orange markings and 2.5-5cm long. The fruit is a distinctive woody capsule with a long curved beak which splits as the capsule matures to form two long curved horns. The whole fruit is 8-30cm long, with the claws being longer than the body.  See under Yellow-flowered Devil's Claw for photos of that very similar plant.

Preferred habitat and impacts

Naturalised on roadsides and waste ground and in pasture, but large infestations are rare in NSW. Plants germinate in spring and growth is rapid through spring and summer. Flowering is in late summer and plants die in autumn.

The plants are not palatable to stock and can reduce carrying capacity. The fruits can cause injuries. particularly by getting caught on the face, which can restrict feeding and cause death from starvation. Fruits can become attached to the feet and cause lameness. Fruits also cause vegetable fault in wool. They may be highly competitive with summer crops such as cotton.

Dispersal

Seed is spread while still in the hooked fruits attached to animals, particularly sheep. It could also attach to machinery and vehicles.

Look-alikes

Yellow-flowered devil's claw (Ibicella lutea) is a very similar plant with yellow flowers. It is also noxious in class 4 in Southern Slopes LCA.

Control

Easily controlled by chipping or cultivation up to flowering. Once it has flowered fruit may form on plants which have been cut, so they may need to be collected and burnt to prevent seeding. Herbicides may be effective.