Catclaw Acacia, Gregg's Catclaw Acacia, Texas Catclaw, Uña de Gato

Acacia greggii Gray

Fabaceae (Legume family)


A thorny, thicket-forming, native shrub or small tree in the legume family, this plant occasionally grows to upwards of 30 feet or 9.1 m tall, with trunks of up to 12 inches in diameter. However, these trees are usually much smaller. The leaves are doubly pinnate, with 4 to 7 small leaflet pairs arranged oppositely on the petiole. The fragrant, pale white flowers generally occur from April to October. They develop into curling, contorted fruit pods that persist from July through winter and typically produce 3 to 5 hard, brown seeds in each pod. Catclaw acacias have many alternating thorns pointing upward that make dense thickets impenetrable. The thorns are shaped similar to a cat's claw and can easily snag a passerby, which explains the origins of the common names. Its forage value is fair for wildlife and goats and poor for cattle and sheep.


Catclaw acacias grow on dry, gravelly mesas with shallow caliche and in arroyos and deep, alkali sand. The plant is also extremely drought tolerant.