Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Martynia annua L.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Habit, leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Forster, P.I. (1995) Australian Systematic Botany 8: 788. Type: Queensland, Lakefield National Park, 23 Jan. 1993, P. I. Forster 12876 & A. R. Bean; holo: BRI; iso: DNA, MEL, QRS.

Common name

Small Fruited Devil's Claw; Devil's Claws


Usually flowers and fruits as a herb but sometimes as a shrub about 1-2 m tall.


Sticky-topped glandular hairs present on both the upper and lower leaf blade surfaces and also on the twigs, stems and petioles. Stems hollow. Leaf blades usually quite large, about 10-25 x 9-25 cm. Petioles about 18-20 cm long.


Sticky glandular hairs present on all parts of the inflorescence (including pedicels, calyx and corolla). Pedicels about 10-25 mm long. Calyx about 15-20 mm long. Corolla about 55-65 mm overall, tube about 35-45 mm long. Corolla spotted on the inner surface, the spots yellow, pink or purple. Anther locules divaricate but aligned in a vertical plane. Pollen white. Staminodes three, two large and one small. Ovary glabrous. Style about 25-30 mm long. Stigmatic lobes two, unequal in size.


Fruits about 32-33 x 17-20 mm with two sharp-hooked spines at the apex. Endocarp +/- 8-ribbed. Seeds 4 per fruit, each seed about 15-20 x 4-5 mm, laterally compressed, winged at each end. Embryo about 11-12 mm long, cotyledons auriculate or sagittate at the base, much wider than the radicle.


At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade +/- cordate, about 8.5-10 x 8.5-10 cm, margin sparsely toothed. The entire seedling clothed in glandular hairs which give the plant a sticky and slimy texture. Taproot carrot-like (Daucus carota).

Distribution and Ecology

An introduced species originally from Mexico, now naturalised in NT, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as north-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range in NEQ from 250-1350 m. Usually grows as a weed of agricultural land but also found in monsoon forest and vine thickets in NEQ. Also naturalised in Asia and Malesia.

Natural History & Notes

This species may have medicinal properties.

Martynia fragrans Lindl., Edwards's Botanical Register 26: (1840), Type: for which I am indebted to Mr. Marnock, of the nursery, Hackney. .. and is a native of Mexico, in the vicinity of Real del Monte mines. Martynia proboscidea Gloxin, Observationes Botanicae : 14(1777), Type: Habitat ad Misisippi flumen. Martynia louisiana Mill., The Gardeners Dictionary : no. 3(1768), Type: - discovered by the late Dr. William Houstoun, near La Vera Cruz, in New Spain. Martynia driandra Gloxin, Observationes Botanicae : 14(1777), Type: Habitat ad Americae Veram Crucem. Martynia lutea Lindl., Edwards's Botanical Register 11: t. 93(1825), Type: from the Brazils.
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