Purple flower devil's claw: declared pest

Page last updated: Monday, 20 July 2020 - 3:03pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Purple flower devil's claw (Proboscidea louisianica) is a declared pest in Western Australia (WA). This article describes the nature of the plant with links to requirements land owners/occupiers must adhere to, pest control methods and how to search, detect and report it.

Form: herbaceous — annual

Status: present in WA

Native to the south-western United States.


Erect low growing annual herb 20-50 centimetres high.

Stems: branched, hollow, covered with glandular hairs which exude a slimy sticky sap.

Leaves: rounded to heart shaped 5-25 centimetres across, arranged in opposite pairs, covered with glandular hairs which exude a slimy sticky sap. Leaf stalks 20 centimetres long.

Flowers: creamy white to mauve or purple flowers, spotted with dark purple and orange. Trumpet shaped 2.5-5 centimetres long and 5-7.5 centimetres in diameter.

Fruit: a bulbous capsule containing numerous seed. The curved beak is longer than the body of the fruit. The fruit is 8-30 centimetres long. Brown or black with a roughened pitted surface.

Seeds: black or grey strongly wrinkled, variable in shape, about 10 millimetres long and six millimetres wide.

Growers involved in hay cutting and baling operations during spring/summer should keep an eye out for Purple flowered devil’s claw plants around water and moist areas.

Online weed identification training

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Agricultural and economic impact

Purple flower devil’s claw prefers to grow in summer irrigated horticultural crops and in cotton. The woody fruits interfere with harvesting and can damage machinery. If it became established in an area with livestock, the sharp claws could cause serious injuries, however its preferred habitat it river flats and horticultural crops.

Declared pest category

The Western Australian Organism List (WAOL) contains information on the area(s) in which this pest is declared and the control and keeping categories to which it has been assigned in Western Australia (WA). Search for purple flower devil's claw in the WAOL using the scientific name Proboscidea louisianica.

Requirements for land owners/occupiers and other persons

Requirements for land owners/occupiers and other persons if this pest is found can be sourced through the declared plant requirements link.

Search > detect > report

MyPestGuide™ Reporter
via app or online
(Select 'Send report to MyWeedWatcher' from menu)

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080

Detectability: medium difficulty to find. Purple flower devil’s claw is very distinctive when flowering and fruiting, however it could possibly be confused with a cucurbit prior to flowering. Purple flower devil’s claw can be distinguished from cucurbits because it is covered in sticky hairs.

Any plants with similar fruits are likely to be declared species that should be reported, for example, yellow flower devil’s claw (Ibicella lutea) and smallfruit devil’s claw (Martynia annua) which are both found in other states.

Who is likely to find it: members of the general public, market gardeners and other horticulturists (especially in Carnarvon), carnivorous plant enthusiasts, perhaps permaculturists or people who grow ‘natural’ foods, as the immature fruits are edible.

When to find it: purple flower devil’s claw is a summer-growing plant. It is most likely to be found when mature plants are flowering and fruiting, in February-April.

Where to find it: purple flower devil’s claw is most likely to be found in Carnarvon as it has been found there before, and grows in summer irrigated vegetable crops.

Control method

Control methods for this declared plant can be found through the purple flower devil's claw control link.

Management calendarTable displays: Search Jan-Apr. Germination Sep-Nov. Actively growing Sep-Feb. Flowering Feb-Mar. Fruiting: Mar-May. Treatment Oct-Jan. Manual removal Sep-Feb.

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080
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