Proboscidea parviflora

Wooton's Devil's Claw - Proboscidea parviflora
Percha Box
East of Hillsboro
New Mexico, USA

In early August of 2010, I found this Wooton’s Devil’s Claw, Proboscidea parviflora, in a wash near the Mimbres River at San Lorenzo.  At the time, I knew nothing of how it was used traditionally, I was simply struck with its beauty.  Five years later a friend and I sat on his porch talking about the ways of the world when I noticed that the frayed ends of my jeans had a mass of dry vegetation attached.  I reached down and untangled the mess, a dozen or so of the large seed capsules of this species.  Reminded of its beauty, I went in search of old photographs and came up with the ones below.

This species is known, primarily, by one of the following common names; Doubleclaw, Red Devil’s Claw, Wotton’s Devil’s Claw, or simply Devil’s Claw.  

The range of Wooton’s Devil’s Claw in the United States is shown to the right.  Light green means that the species is native and not rare in the subject county.  It is also found in northern Mexico. 

The fruit and seeds of this species were used by the indigenous peoples of this area as food and the dark-colored strands in the seed pod were used in basketry, one of only a few species which could be used as black in basket design.  Their uses of this plant are listed at the University of Michigan site on Native American Ethnobotany.

This species was originally described by E. O. Wooton and Paul Carpenter Standley.  They co-authored “Flora of New Mexico” in 1915.

The Type Specimen shown below was collected by Elmer Ottis Wooton on August 30, 1897 at an altitude of 4,500’ in the Organ Mountains of southern New Mexico.  Wooton is also the first describer.


San Lorenzo, NM
Immediately above and below
August 2010


12334_orig


© Robert Barnes 2018