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Cat’s-claw, Catclaw blackbead
Pithecellobium unguis-cati
Fabaceae
 

Copyright by: George D. Gann
in habitat, Everglades National Park, Key Largo, Florida, 2013

General Landscape Uses: Accent or specimen shrub or small tree along the coast. Buffer plantings.

Availability: Native plant nurseries.

Description: Large shrub or small tree with an irregular crown from spreading, spiny branches. Trunks short, to about 8 inches in diameter. Bark reddish-brown, divided by fissures. Leaves compound, the leaflets about 1-2 inches long.

Dimensions: Typically 10-15 feet in height; to 24 feet in South Florida. Often as broad as tall or broader.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Monroe County Keys and Miami-Dade County north along west coast to Hillsborough County; West Indies, Central America and South America. In Miami-Dade County not known from the mainland; known only from the Florida Keys in and around Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.

Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

Habitats: Coastal hammocks.

Soils: Moist, well-drained sandy or limestone soils, with humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun.

Flower Color: White to greenish-yellow.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy globose heads. Fragrant.

Flowering Season: All year; peak in summer.

Fruit: Reddish-brown pod (legume).

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides food and cover for wildlife. Larval host plant for cassius blue (Leptotes cassius) and large orange sulphur (Phoebis agarithe) butterflies. Nectar plant for cassius blue butterflies.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed removed from the aril. Place seed on top of soil and just cover. Place container in light shade.

Comments: Almost the entire plant is spiny.


Copyright by: George D. Gann
in habitat, Everglades National Park, Key Largo, Florida, 2013

Copyright by: George D. Gann
in habitat, Everglades National Park, Key Largo, Florida, 2013

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton


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