Also known as grapple plant, harpago, and wood spider, the specific species of Devil’s claw most often mentioned in magical and healing circles are known by the scientific names Harpagophytum procumbens and Harpagophytum zeyheri.
Beautiful to behold but a trial for any gardener to handle, Devil’s claw is a creeping, prostrate plant marked by irregularly-lobed gray-green leaves on trailing stems, blossoming between November and April with trumpet-shaped red or magenta flowers with yellow throats. In January, the plant produces the distinctive fruits for which it gets its name, their spindly, woody structures hiding a bounty of seeds. It’s a pity, then, that this quirky plant is on the endangered species list.
Devil’s claw has been used as medicine by the San people of the Kalahari for centuries. It was first exported to Germany in the early 1900s and the demand has increased and expanded world wide since then. The San have used it for fevers, muscle pain, inflammation, venereal disease, blood diseases, diabetes, coughs, and gout. In modern medicine it has been show efficacious for pain, inflammation, and arthritis. It’s even possible to get the herb in capsule form!
Though it doesn’t seem to take well to being in captivity, Avontuur Farm in South Africa has scientifically refined their techniques for nurturing these finicky plants and has been growing them since 2009. Since they’re critically endangered, it’s not wise to pursue using these species for magic; they are, however, aligned with the planet Mars and the element of fire and have used for banishing, exorcism, and purification.
I couldn’t find the flower language for Devil’s flower, but I wanted to end the post here anyways. I apologize for it being so short, but I’ve been wrestling with insomnia and really, really just wanted to make an herb post. I might make another post later on, but I hope you enjoy this one!