Common names: catclaw, Gregg cat claw, cat's claw acacia, tear blanket, devils claw, paradise flower, long-flowered catclaw, Texas mimosa.
By Amanda Garcia, Monica Moya, Virginia Chavez-Bell Summer 2000
Acacia greggii is a member of the Fabaceae family; it is native to the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Catclaw occurs primarily in semi-desert grasslands and brushy range lands largely confined to washes. It is often found on the upper slopes of a bajada (Spanish for downhill) where moisture is more available than middle or lower bajada situations. Catclaw has the highest water requirements of several species of desert shrubs tested, partially explaining why although it is found in arid regions, is often confined to dry washes or stream bottoms with relatively shallow water tables.
Catsclaw a perennial, is characterized as being a 3 to 10 foot tall shrub but may develop into an upright tree 25 to 30 feet tall. It is often thicket forming and has numerous spreading, slender thorny branches. The brown, stout, "claw like" thorns are about 0.25 inch long. The bark is gray to black. Numerous creamy-yellow flowers occur in 1.25 to 2.5 inch long spikes. The stiff and papery gray-brown legume-type fruits are 2 to 5.5 inches long, 0.5 to 0.75 inch wide, curved or contorted, flattened and constricted between the seeds.
Propagation: Catsclaw acacia reproduces sexually by producing an abundance of seeds. Sprouting occurs following damage to the above-ground portion of the plant. Catclaw acacia flowers are pollinated by Insect
s and begin to produce seed between 4 to six years of age. It has shown varying success when transplanted. Seedlings can be nursery grown in tall containers to accommodate the deep root systems. In California, seed collected in the field exhibited good germination without any special treatment in fall or spring.
Catclaw acacia has flowers in yellow, cylindrical spikes. The flowers and leaves of this plant resemble mesquite, but cats claw thorns are like rose thorns, broad at the base and curved backward while mesquite thorns are straight. The seed pods of the catclaw split upon maturing mesquite pods do not.
Preparation: Gather the pods when still green and dry the leaves and branches over a paper as the leaves often fall off while hanging. The longer distal roots, chopped into small segments while moist. The gum is gathered the same way as mesquite gum and the flowers are dried. The green leaves, stems, and pods are powdered for tea (standard infusion) or for topical application; the roots are best used as a cold standard infusion, warmed for drinking and gargling.
Medicinal Uses: Pods are used for conjunctivitis in the same manner as mesquite pods and the gum, although catsclaw is harder to harvest it is used in the same way as mesquite gum. The powdered pods and leaves make an excellent infused tea (2-4 ounces of the standard infusion every three hours) for Diarrhea
, as well as a strongly Astringent
hemostatic and Antimicrobial
wash. The straight powder will stop superficial Bleeding
and can also be dusted into moist, chafed body folds and dusted on infants for Diaper Rash
. The flowers and leaves as a simple tea are good Anti-inflammatory
for the Stomach
, and Hangover
s. It is distinctly Sedative
. The root is thick and mucilaginous as a tea and is good for Sore throat
and mouth Inflammation
s as well as dry raspy Cough
People who have used this plant:
Catsclaw has been used by Native Americans for treating the sore backs and flanks of their horses. There has been no specific information on cultural practices concerning catsclaw. Most sources indicate that the plant has been used by many groups in the southwestern United States.
Active Ingredients Constituents for the leaves, pods, and roots: benzyl alcohol, butyric Acid
, coumarin cresol,
leucoanthocyanidin, N-methyl-B-phenethylamine, N-methylpentathylamine
gum: same as Mesquite gum, anisaldehyde
Native American Ethnobotany Database, Univ. Michigan-Dearborn
Search results for Acacia gregii:
Bean, L. and Saubel, K. Temalpakh (From the Earth); Cahuilla Indian
Knowledge and Usage of Plants. Malki Museum Press. Banning, CA, 1972.
Dawson, E. "Some Ethnobotanical Notes on the Seri Indians." Desert Plant
Life. 9:133-138. 1944.
Hinton, L. "Notes on La Huerta Diegueno Ethnobotany." Journal of
California Anthropology. 2:214-222. 1975.
Rea, A. Gila River Pima Dietary Reconstruction. Arid Lands Newsletter 31:3-10, 1991
Russell, F. The Pima Indians. SI-BAE Annual Report #26:1-390. 1908.
Weber, S. and Seaman, D. Havasupai Habitat: A. F. Whiting's Ethnography
of a Traditional Indian Culture. University of Arizona Press. Tucson, AZ.
Moore, M. Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West. Museum of New
Mexico Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1989.
Moore, M. . American Indian Ethnobotany Databases. SW School of Botanical
Medicine, July 12, 1999.