Cat's Claw
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Cat's Claw
ntroduced Photo: Tabish
Common name: Cat's claw, Cat's claw creeper
Botanical name: Dolichandra unguis-cati    Family: Bignoniaceae (Jacaranda family)
Synonyms: Macfadyena unguis-cati, Bignonia unguis-cati, Doxantha unguis-cati

Cat’s claw is a woody vine or occasionally a scrambling shrub. The name comes from the tripartite, hooked tendrils resembling an animal’s claws that enable the vine to adhere to tree bark and other surfaces. Cat’s claw has a strong and flexible, cylindrical stem that is brown in color with many lenticels. The stems produce adventitious roots to anchor them tightly to vertical surfaces. Cat’s claw may exceed 8 cm in stem diameter and extend more than 20 m into the crowns of trees. The plant grows and maintains few branches until the growing tip reaches increased light. The vine can be highly invasive, and is difficult to control. The compound leaves have two leaflets with the clawed tendril between them. The leaves are generally ovate to lanciolate in shape but quite variable in size. The 4.5 to 10 cm-long tubular flowers have five lobes and are bright yellow with red-orange lines in the throat. From them develops a long (up to 75 cm), narrow (1.0-1.5 cm), flattened capsule that produces brown flattened, winged seeds. Cat’s claw is native to the Greater and Lesser Antilles, Mexico, Central America, and South America to Argentina.

Identification credit: Nitu Photographed in J.N.U., Delhi

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