Those unusual-looking mystery seeds from last week were from an unusual plant, the doubleclaw, Proboscidea parviflora.
Also commonly called the" devil's claw," this plant is named for its oddly-shaped seed pods (see below). Doubleclaw grows in the deserts of the Southwest.
The plant is a large shrub with almost heart-shaped leaves.
If you look closely, the stems, flowers and developing fruit are all covered with tiny hairs.
The hairs might serve several functions, including shading the stem, preventing water loss, and/or deterring insects.
Look at the hairs on this flower.
The flower is pretty, but short lived.
After the flower is pollinated, an oddly shaped fruit starts to emerge.
The doubleclaw fruit continues to lengthen, and develops a curling claw.
Eventually, when it is mature and dried, it will look like this. Yes, those are the large claws that give the plant its common name. They aren't particularly sharp, but do grab onto things. Inside are seeds like the ones we started with.
Doubleclaw has been cultivated by humans for centuries. The youngest fruit are edible when prepared correctly and are said to taste like okra. The mature claws are used in basket making.
We would like to thank our friends Deb and Treyson for sharing seeds and their enthusiasm for the doubleclaw.
If you are interested in learning more, Firefly Forest has a nice overview and great photographs. For a more scientific and comprehensive discussion of the genus, try Devil's Claws: Hitchhikers On Big Animals.
Have you ever seen a doubleclaw? Better yet, have you ever eaten one?
(Since I'm not too fond of okra, I don't think I am not all that eager to try it. :-))