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


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.
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.


 


George D. Gann
in habitat, Everglades National Park, Key Largo, Florida, 2013
George D. Gann
in habitat, Everglades National Park, Key Largo, Florida, 2013
Roger L. Hammer
Shirley Denton
Shirley Denton
Shirley Denton