Cat’s claw creeper

Cat’s claw creeper

Dolichandra unguis-cati (Bignoniaceae)

Common Name:

Cat’s claw creeper

Scientific Name:

Dolichandra unguis-cati (Bignoniaceae)

Alternative common names:

Katteklouranker (Afrikaans), amaziphekati (isiZulu & isiXhosa)


The cat's claw creeper Dolichandra (syn. Macfadyena) unguis-cati is an invasive evergreen climber, climbing as high as 9m with claw-like tendrils between the bright green oblong to lance-shaped leaves, which have a terminal, three-part, claw-like tendril. The bright yellow flowers appear from September to February and are trumpet-shaped, occurring in clusters of two or three, sometimes solitary. Flattened, brown leathery capsules hold the winged, papery seeds. This climber invades forest margins, woodlands, plantations, roadsides and urban open spaces.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

South America (Mexico to Argentina)

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1; NEMBA - Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng

How does it spread?

Pod-like capsules split opens and release the winged seeds

Why is it a problem?

Overtops, strangles and smothers indigenous forest and plantation species

How to get rid of cat's claw creeper
- Owing to the plant’s profuse seed production, as well as its network of underground tubers, chemical and mechanical control are difficult and usually ineffective.
- The seeds are easily spread by wind and water, but it is the tubers which ultimately hamper control.
- When aerial parts of the plant are damaged by fire or chemicals, or removed mechanically, the plant re-sprouts readily from the tubers.
- Tubers, therefore, allow the plant to survive adverse conditions.
- Any control strategy must primarily target the tuber bank, but also remove the vines to prevent further spread and seed production.

For more information on Cat's Claw Creeper:

What does it look like?

General description: Evergreen climber climbing as high as 9m with claw-like tendrils between the leaves.
Leaves: Bright green oblong to lance-shaped leaves with a terminal, three-part, claw-like tendril.
Flowers: Bright yellow flowers appearing from September to February, which are trumpet-shaped and up to 80mm long x 100mm wide and occurring in clusters of two or three, sometimes solitary.
Fruit/Seeds: Flattened brown leathery capsules up to 300 mm or longer which split open to release the winged, papery seeds

Does the plant have any uses?

Grown as an ornamental plant

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