While being able to take a special vacation in the past week, I finally find
a seed pod that I have been hunting for a good number of years.
(Im aware that you can find them for sale online occasionally, but I was just shocked to finally see it in person.)
I read about them many years back while trying to find Trapa Bicornis Nuts, (Which I still can not find alive),
so I figured it was finally time to put some research/grow time into this species, So I purchased the last and only
pod on the rack.
A small excerpt reads: "In Querétaro we called them Devil's Claws but here they're known as Uña de Gatos, or Cat-Claws. They're MARTYNIA ANNUA, plants so unusual that usually they're placed in their own family, the Martynia Family, the Martyniaceae.
The fruits, which technically are capsules, are harder than most woods and the curved claws are very sharp, easily able to mangle a bare foot that steps on them. Best I can tell, each fruit contains four seeds, two in each fruit half. When I macheted across one -- with difficulty because they were so hard -- the endosperm, or seed "meat," was oily and white like that of coconut. I suspect that some cultures hold these fruits in special regard because they look like the upper jaw and fangs of a pit viper.
I read that before the fruits harden and are still green they resemble bean pods or okra, and are cooked and eaten as a vegetable by indigenous North American people. The dried seeds are rich in protein and can be shelled and eaten. The seeds are so oily that sometimes they've been used to polish pottery. A report from Chihuahua says that the Tarahumara there prepare a tea from the fruits, which they take to relieve headaches.
When my friend Cresencio saw the fruit picture he told me that when the plant is fresh his people collect the leaves, which are covered with sticky glands, place them beneath their hammocks, and then when fleas come they get stuck to the leaves and don't jump up into the hammock!
Note the sharp hooked spines
I was worried while this was traveling in my suitcase, the hooks
and wood would be crushed by the lazy bag handlers, however,
feeling this pod, it is indeed very hard. Also, the skull I brought with it
in salem hasnt been damaged either.
Also found this nice dried specimen
Now arriving home, There isnt a whole lot of information about them. Just a few Tidbits here and
there on the plant family and their location data. I would like to grow this pod out and get a couple
plants to re-seed. Anybody have any ideas/know about this?