Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California

Growing Dolichandra unguis-cati:
Cats Claw Vine

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Form: A climbing vine.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: Evergreen but cold deciduous.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: Vines can become 25-50' long.
Flowers: Yellow trumpet flowers 3-4" wide. No fragrance.
Bloom: Spring, possibly summer. Each flower lasts one or two days. In full sun, more flowers bloom at one time, and the total bloom time may be only two weeks. In full shade, the plant may bloom sporadically throughout spring and summer, most heavily in the spring.
Fruit: A seed pod, often 20" long, green turning to brown, containing oblong, flat, winged seeds.
Leaves: Green leaves occurring in pairs.
Stems: Woody, root-forming at nodes wherever soil is touched. Three pronged, clawed tendrils located at intervals along the stem assist in vertical climbing. The claws damage surfaces such as stucco and shingles.
Roots: This plant has underground tubers and above-ground roots called stolons. It is invasive in moist soil and becomes highly invasive after hard rains. Grow in a container to prevent invasiveness. It is one of the most difficult plants to eradicate when grown in the ground. This vine is relatively safe in desert areas but should never be grown in warm regions with normal rainfall.
Wildlife: The flowers attract bees and birds.
Toxic / Danger: Handling this vine may cause skin irritation. This plant, including the bark, is poisonous to parrots when ingested. It should be considered at least mildly poisonous when ingested for all animals, including humans.
Origin: Tropical America.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8b-10.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun to full shade. Full sun produces the most flowers at one time.
Water once established: Once or twice a month.
Soil: Adaptable, pH 6.1-7.8 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline).
Prune: This plant must be headed back if it is growing in an unwanted direction.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Seed, cuttings or tubers.
Uses: Ornamental, erosion control and ground cover in desert areas. It can provide shade or hide a vertical surface such as a fence. It withstands light foot traffic.

This plant is a member of the Trumpet Creeper family (Bignoniaceae). It is benign in dry climates, but more difficult to control where periodic heavy rains occur. The clawed tendrils can damage surfaces.
This vine can climb to the top of trees and kill them with its shade and weight. Its roots can get entangled with those of other shrubs that will have to be removed in order to eradicate this vine.

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Dolichandra unguis-cati: Cats Claw Vine - flower

Dolichandra unguis-cati: Cats Claw Vine - tendrils

Dolichandra unguis-cati: Cats Claw Vine

Latest update: February, 2022
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