This is a basket weavers’ selection for extremely long claws used as black fibers in basket weaving. Unique and lovely sprawling plants have delicate pink orchid-like flowers that turn into hooked green pods that as they dry split woody claw-like halves with scrolling arabesque – like hooked claws. Flowers are reminiscent of sesame flowers which is one reason they were once classified in the same plant family but now they have been given their own family, Martyniaceae.
A native of the desert Southwest and Northern Mexico these plants are highly drought tolerant and have been used in many ways. Fatty seeds can be consumed as a source of fat, or used as a cooking oil, young pods can be eaten. Dark pods are used for basket weaving and for making black dye. When pods are immature we have heard they are good pickled but have yet to try it (let us know if you do!). We have also heard of traditional herbal medicine uses for treating headaches.
The transformation of this plant from green okra-like pods to woody elegantly curled pods has captivated us and we love using these pods for decoration and making wreaths.