If you would like to support this site, please consider Donating.
Useful Tropical Plants

Uncaria tomentosa

(Willd. ex Schult.) DC.

Rubiaceae

+ Synonyms

Cinchona globifera Pav. ex DC.

Nauclea aculeata Kunth

Nauclea polycephala A.Rich. ex DC.

Nauclea surinamensis (Miq.) Walp.

Nauclea tomentosa Willd. ex Schult.

Ourouparia tomentosa (Willd. ex Schult.) K.Schum.

Uncaria surinamensis Miq.

Common Name: Cat's Claw

Uncaria tomentosa
Close-up of the flowers
Photograph by: Environmental Sciences Program, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
© Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Uncaria tomentosa Uncaria tomentosa Uncaria tomentosa

General Information

Cat's claw is a vigorous, evergreen, spiny climbing shrub scrambling into other plants and attaching itself by means of its stout, recurved spines[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
]. The stems can be up to 30 metres long and 8 - 25cm in diameter near the base[
369
Title
Flora of Costa Rica
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C.
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History; Chicago
Year
1938
ISBN
 
Description
Rather dated, but an excellent treatment of the area. Available for download from the internet.
].
Cat’s claw is a popular medicinal herb, mainly gathered from the wild or semi-cultivated, and traded in many countries[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

369
Title
Flora of Costa Rica
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C.
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History; Chicago
Year
1938
ISBN
 
Description
Rather dated, but an excellent treatment of the area. Available for download from the internet.

Range

S. America - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; Caribbean - Trinidad; Central America - Panama to Guatemala.

Habitat

Typical of primary forest, but also found in disturbed forest and rarely in secondary forest[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Climber
Height25.00 m
Cultivation StatusSemi-cultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of mainly low elevations in the tropics, where it can usually be found at elevations up to 300 metres.
Grows best in dappled shade[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.2 - 7.7[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].
In some parts of the Atlantic coast of Central America the plant is reported to become a troublesome weed in banana plantations[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
].
The stems are only large enough to harvest when they are 8 years or more old. Generally, it is recommended that the vine is cut at 20 - 100cm above the ground and left to regenerate[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].

Edible Uses

The stems are a source of a potable sap that is used to quench thirst and as a restorative drink[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
,
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
]. A watery, astringent taste[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].

Medicinal

Cat's claw has a long history of traditional use, being employed in the treatment of a range of conditions including inflammations (especially rheumatism), arthritis, urinary tract infections and gastric ulcers. It has also been used as a blood purifier; to cleanse the kidneys; to recover from childbirth or treat menstrual irregularities; as a treatment for asthma[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].
Applied externally, it is used as a wash for wounds in order to promote healing, to cleanse the skin of impurities etc[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].
The plant is widely used in modern herbal medicine, where it is primarily valued for its stimulatory effect upon the immune system[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
]. The part most commonly used is the stem bark[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].
Cat's claw has many modern applications, which is a common trait of herbs with immune stimulatory activity, and includes: disease prevention, cancer, recovery from chemotherapy side effects, recovery from childbirth, urinary tract infections, wounds, fevers, haemorrhages, and weakness. Applications for cat’s claw which have had some clinical research include viral infections, pain and symptoms of Herpes infections, and for inflammatory conditions, such as Rheumatoid arthritis[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].
Research has shown that the plant is anti-inflammatory, immune system stimulant, cytoprotective and antioxidant[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].

The whole plant is used in a gargle to remedy mouth ulcers[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

Other Uses

The stems are used in making furniture[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].

Propagation

Seed - it has a very short viability and needs to be sown as soon as it is ripe[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].
Stem cuttings about 20cm long[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
]. If the soil of the forest is moist enough, the cuttings are said to be easy to reproduce by directly inserting them into the forest floor. If the conditions are right, the roots develop soon after transplanting[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].

Add a Comment:

If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.