A.Vogel Blog

Devil's Claw

Cultivation with a conscience

The Devil's Claw plant may only be found in the sands of the Kalahari in southern Africa.

Also known as ‘Grapple Hook’, it gets its name from the claw-shaped seed pod of the plant. Bearing barbed spikes shaped like a claw, it can hook itself onto the hoof or muzzle of grazing animals, helping it to disperse over a wide area.

However, it is the water-storing root or tuber of Devil's Claw that is used as a traditional herbal medicine. These are dug up in the wild from the desert sands – and with its roots harvested, the Devil’s Claw plant dies.

But the increasing awareness of the value of Devil’s Claw extracts in rheumatism products for joint pain relief, has come at a price. With up to 15 million wild plants uprooted each year, the traditional form of ‘wild-harvesting’ has threatened the existence of Devil’s Claw in its natural habitat.

But for A.Vogel, the development of Atrosan as a herbal remedy for joint and muscular pain relief had to be done without harming nature.

Cultivation of Devil’s Claw plants had never been achieved before, but working with scientists and local farmers, A.Vogel managed, after many years of research work, to develop a unique and sustainable organic farming method for a herb that was previously impossible to cultivate.

The Devil's Claw plants which go into A.Vogel Atrosan are grown on a specially created farm in the Kalahari.

Our plants are grown from seed - Devil's Claw does not give up its seeds easily and special implements have to be used to extract these from the seed pod.

After germination, young plants with primary tubers are transplanted in carefully prepared strips of land using an organic protocol both to ensure top quality plants and to minimise the impact on the natural environment.

It takes four years for each plant to mature and only then does our local workforce harvest the water-storage tubers. This task is performed by hand so that the main tuber can be replanted and left to grow once more to maturity, thus ensuring a continuing supply for rheumatism products such as Atrosan.

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