Field of Science

Cat's Claw Vine

Sometime back the Phactor introduced you to our Cat's Claw Vine, but not the business end, the claws. This vine is a grappling climber, not a twining-vining climber or a tendril climber. Each leaf consists of three leaflets, two photosynthetic ones (bent to the left in this image) and a terminal or middle leaflet modified into a 3-parted claw. It climbs by grappling any irregular surface. The claws grapple the surface and then the weight of the vine "sets" the claw in place. It's pretty amazing what this vine can climb, and it's lower branches do a good job of way-laying you as pass by. The claws are not very big as you may judge from this image, but they are quite tough and the tips quite stiff and hard.

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