Harpagophytum procumbens, also called grapple plant, wood spider and most commonly devil’s claw, is a genus of plants in the sesame family, native to southern Africa. Plants of the genus owe their common name “devil’s claw” to the peculiar appearance of their hooked fruit.
Harpagophytum procumbens is mainly found in the eastern and south eastern parts of Namibia, Southern Botswana and the Kalahari region of the Northern Cape, South Africa. H. zeyheri is found in the northern parts of Namibia (Ovamboland) and southern Angola.
Harpagophytum procumbens inhabits deep, sandy soils, and occurs in areas with low annual rainfall.
The sustainability of the trade in devil’s claw has been questioned for several years. The governments of the each of the countries in which it occurs (range states; Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa) have developed policies and regulations to protect the species, to determine a sustainable harvest, and to provide for continued livelihoods for the harvesters. At various times, the species has been proposed for protection by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). However, the range states have implemented measures to manage the trade sustainably and the proposal to protect the species by CITES was withdrawn.
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