Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Catclaw, originally uploaded by Elizabeth Smith.

I’ve wanted to draw and learn more about this tree since I first saw the seedpods at Rookery Bay Estuary years ago, and a recent field trip to Barefoot Beach provided the opportunity.  The Naples Chapter of the Native Plant Society met December 5th to explore the coastal plants of this lovely preserve.  Just one of the fascinating plants we came across was the catclaw tree.

The seedpods are particularly interesting, ranging in color and contorted forms, and split open to reveal seeds that are even more dramatic. The black shiny seeds are partially encased in red flesh (white inside) and sometimes strung as beads in the Caribbean. Challenging to draw!

This tropical large shrub or smallish tree is found in the US only in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Common names include cat’s claw, blackbead, bread-and-cheese, and uña de gata. Catclaw also provides larval food for several butterfly species: Miami Blue, large orange sulphur, and cassius blue.

You can click on the image caption to see this nature journal entry on my Flickr photostream.

For more information about catclaw, please visit the links below.
Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants
US Forest Service
Institute of Regional Conservation (IRC)