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By Witchipedia, Herbs

Devil’s Claw: Growing, Healing, and Magickal Uses

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum spp.) is the common name of a group of plants in the Sesame (Pedaliaceae) family of plants native to South Africa.

The specific species most often mentioned in magickal and healing circles are Harpagophytum procumbensHarpagophytum zeyheri

The name devil’s claw is a folk name used for several other plants, including stinging nettle, Unicorn plant.

Other common names and folk names for Devil’s Claw include grapple plant, wood spider, harpago,

Harpagophytum procumbens is native to Namibia, Botswana, and the Kalahari region of South Africa

Harpagophytum zeyheri is found in Namibia and southern Angola.

Both plants are considered medicinal and are used for a similar purpose. Overharvesting in the wild has led these plants to enjoy protected status in their native range.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Devil’s Claw, a unique plant native to Southern Africa, boasts distinctive claw-like fruit pods that contain medicinal properties.

Growing Devil’s Claw is possible in well-drained, sandy soil, and it requires warm, sunny conditions, making it a fascinating addition to a garden.

Devil’s Claw is renowned for its healing potential, particularly for alleviating pain and inflammation in conditions like arthritis and muscle soreness.

In the realm of Magick, Devil’s Claw is believed to possess protective qualities and is often incorporated into spells and rituals for warding off negative energies.

Description of Devil’s Claw

Devil’s claw is really quite a lovely plant to behold, if not to handle. It is a creeping, prostrate plant with opposite, irregularly-lobed, grey-green leaves on trailing stems. The silvery color of the leaves is due to small white mucilage cells covering their surface and may be the key to their survival in their arid native habitat.

The flowers appear in the summer (November to April in their native range), are trumpet-shaped and typically red to purple-pink with yellow throats, but there is some variety to the color. All yellow and even white specimens can be found. Around January, the flowers give way to the distinctive fruits that give this plant its name. They are woody, oval capsules filled with seeds and protected by rows of long, horned arms and spines that extend in all directions.

The real treasure of the devil’s claw plant lies beneath the surface, however. It puts down tubers to store nutrients through its dormant period. These tubers are one of the most exported of African medicinal plants. They are also a valuable food source for the native fauna.

Growing Devil’s Claw

Devil’s claw does not appear to do well at all in captivity though Avontuur farm in South Africa has been cultivating Devil’s Claw since 2002, after much trial and research.

In the wild, devil’s claw thrives in the savanna and enjoys deep, dry, sandy soil, though it can also be found in rocky areas. It is most often found on the plains and at the bases of sand dunes. Devil’s claw should be harvested in its fourth year for best results.

Devil’s Claw for Healing

Devil’s claw has been used as medicine by the San people of the Kalahari for centuries. It was first exported to Germany in the early 1900s and the demand has increased and expanded worldwide since then. The San have used it for fevers, muscle pain, inflammation, venereal disease, blood diseases, diabetes, coughs, and gout. In modern medicine, it has been shown efficacious for pain, inflammation, and arthritis.

The tuberous root is the part of the plant that is used for medicine. It is available in capsule form from several sources. Devil’s claw must be continuously taken for several months to relieve symptoms gradually.

Devil’s claw may interfere with some anti-coagulant drugs and may also increase stomach acid production.

Devil’s Claw in Magick

I do not recommend devil’s claw’s use in magick due to its delicate status in its native habitat. However, it is aligned with the element of fire and the planet Mars and is useful for banishing, exorcism and purification.

Magical tradition indicates that the Devil’s Claw is a component of all practices of binding, love, and occult protection (exorcisms, counter-hexes, banishing, etc.).

The plant is placed under the influence of Mars and Saturn. Let’s see more about it

  • Protects from negative influences and energy attacks.
  • Devil’s claw is associated with prosperity and can be used to attract abundance in magical and ritual practices.
  • Increases vital energy and vitality.
  • This root is associated with inner strength and can be used to develop determination and resilience.
  • It can be used to purify and protect the aura from negative or unwanted energies.
  • Harmonizes the energies of the body and the surrounding environment.
  • It can be used to increase self-confidence and courage in difficult situations.
  • Drive away evil energies and negative influences.
  • Devil’s claw is associated with the force of nature and can be used to reconnect with the natural environment.
  • It promotes mental clarity and clarity of thought.
  • Offers protection against psychic attacks and energy manipulation.
  • It is often used to open and balance the chakras, promoting energetic balance.
  • It can be used to provide emotional support, relieve stress and promote peace of mind.

Magickal uses

  • Devil’s claw root can be used to create a love bond, attracting the affection and loyalty of a specific person.
  • It is used to create amulets or talismans of protection, to defend oneself from negative influences, harmful energies or malevolent people.
  • In magic and folk medicine, devil’s claw root can be used to promote physical healing and relieve pain, especially in herbal practices.
  • The root is widely used to attract prosperity and financial luck, creating a positive energy around abundance and financial opportunity.
  • This root can also be used in negative practices, such as curses or hexes against specific people, for the purpose of blocking, “catching”, creating impediments, or to render a person incapable of reacting to an attack or pursuing his goals.

Typical forms to use:

  • like incense to burn on charcoal
  • as powder to create esoteric mixtures
  • as a dressing oil for candles
  • in ritual baths
  • preparation of infusions and decoctions
  • preparation of filters and magic potions
  • mojo bag preparation

Is it possible to grow Devil’s claw at home?

Devil’s claw does not appear to do well at all in captivity though Avontuur farm in South Africa has been cultivating Devil’s Claw since 2002, after much trial and research.

In the wild, devil’s claw thrives in the savanna and enjoys deep, dry, sandy soil, though it can also be found in rocky areas.

It is most often found on the plains and at the bases of sand dunes. Devil’s claw should be harvested in its fourth year for best results.

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About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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