I was minding my own business by looking through the carpological specimens for an upcoming workshop (more on that another day), when I opened one of the dried fruit drawers and found this:

It’s a good thing I knew what it was. A person who did not might have run shrieking in terror at the sight of it.  It looks like a plant from Aliens– if Aliens had plants, that is. The Devil’s Claw, or Martynia fragans is a seed pod that has adapted to this weird shape so that it has a better chance of being spread over a wide area. The sharp, almost sinister looking hooks latch on to passing animals, that then crush the pod under their feet.

Sometimes they latch onto people’s shoes while walking. I can imagine there would have been some shrieking  then.

Martynia are found in Mexico and the American Southwest. Despite their scary appearence, they have a benign use. Native American tribes use the hooks on the pod to weave baskets.


About Gina Allnatt

I have just finished a year long traineeship as a Biology Curator at Manchester Museum. I am currently a research and curation volunteer in the Entomology and Botany departments. -Gina Allnatt
This entry was posted in Herbarium and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Eek!

  1. Karohemd says:

    Interesting, I first thought it was a rather freaky looking split vanilla pod. 🙂
    (No, I’m not thinking about all the time.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s