Catclaw aka Blackbead

(Pithecellobium unguis-cati)

Tiny thorns are positioned on the stems of this plant. The paired leaflets are reddish at first and turn green. Small greenish-white flowers are feathery and may appear at any time of year. Fruit follows flowering. The fruit is a twisting, reddish pod with dark fruit that take 18 months to ripen and are very showy. Once the pod ripens, it pops open to expose four to nine black, shiny seeds surrounded by white to reddish fleshy arils. The seeds are still used in jewelry and the bark and fruit are used to treat bronchitis, diarrhea, and to stop bleeding. Caribs making necklaces didn’t live as long as the rest of the population because the poison in the seeds is similar to arsenic and builds up over time. The plants are used as living fences.

Information Provided by the Friends of Barefoot Beach Preserve
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