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.