FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Dolichandra unguis-cati

Common Name(s): Cat's-claw vine

A synonym for this species is Macfadyena unguis-cati.


Native from West Indies and Mexico to Argentina.

Ecological Impact

A dense mat of this vine will cover the forest floor and smother native vegetation. Areas that are susceptible to invasion of cats claw include river or stream banks, near human habitations, and undisturbed hammocks.


Cat's-claw vine is a high-climbing woody vine that can grow up to 50 feet in length, often rooting at the node. The dark green leaves are opposite, compound, with small, wide leaflets that mature into ovate or lanceolate leaves. Tendrils are forked, with the tip being claw like. The flowers are trumpet shaped, yellow in color, 3 inches long and 4 inches across.

Identification Tips

Cat's-claw vine gets its name from the 3-pronged claw-like climbing appendages that are used to grasp onto plants or surfaces. This species is very similar in appearance to the native cross-vine (Bignonia capreolata), but the cross-vine possesses red-orange flowers.


Introduced as an ornamental before 1947.


Throughout the entire state of Florida.

Management Strategies

Do not plant. Remove young plants before seeds form. Continual cutting and mowing to prevent seed production will eventually provide control, but it may takes months or years. Current chemical controls include cutting the vines and painting the cut ends with glyphosate (100% solution) herbicide. Triclopyr may provide good control as well (100% solution as a basal bark treatment) or 1-2% foliar spray with surfactant.


Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

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Florida Invasive Plants