Characteristics of the cat’s claw plant (Carpobrotus edulis)

In Gardenprue we usually write about guides, tips and ways to cultivate in the garden, the garden or indoors all kinds of plants and crops. This time we do not want to do that but to warn of the characteristics of this plant and why it should not be cultivated.

We are talking about an invasive species that we find in many Spanish coastal places.


Cat’s claw is the common name for Carpobrotus edulis . There is another plant of Peruvian origin that is also called cat’s claw ( Uncaria tomentosa ) but it is not the one we are talking about today. To avoid confusion, the other plant known by this common name is Uncaria tomentosa. 

The Carpogrotus edulis is a plant of South African origin called succulent, fleshy leaf and bearing creep. The shape of its leaves are somewhat reminiscent of a claw, nail or finger and hence the common name.


Before being considered an invasive species in Spain, cat’s claw was introduced, we believe, due to its striking flowers and, most importantly, its zero maintenance. Being a succulent plant, long periods of drought are not a problem.

The soil does not limit it either because it grows even in the sand itself. Once planted, you forget about it until, without realizing it, you have everything invaded with cat’s claw. In dune systems on the beaches it is not difficult to find one of them.


In Spain it is usually found in coastal areas near the beach or even on the beach itself. Tolerates conditions of extreme salinity. It could be considered halophilic.

Being of a creeping bearing and tolerating soils where other plants are difficult to maintain, the cat’s claw has an open field to expand at breakneck speeds and colonize everything that is put in front of it without regard.

It can displace native species without blinking and when we want to realize it we will have a garden or territory invaded with this plant. In addition, the regrowth capacity of this species is exceptional, making its eradication much more complicated .

Examples of problems that this plant causes in Spain (especially in coastal areas) are reflected in news of a different nature. We can see an example in the links below.

In addition, we must bear in mind that control and eradication expenses come out of taxes and represent a considerable amount. For this reason, from Gardenprue we encourage you to disseminate the list that the BOE publishes with the invasive species described in our country.

Knowing the species such as cat’s claw or others and avoiding their spread is the best way to achieve, if not eradicate them, at least control them as much as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *