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Pisonia grandis

(Grand Devil's-Claws)


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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Chinese:

Kang Feng Tong, 無刺藤

Common Names in English:

Grand Devil's-Claws

Common Names in Malay:

Pokok Mengkudu Siam

Common Names in Tonga (Tonga Islands):



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Family Nyctaginaceae

Herbs, shrubs , trees , or sometimes spiny vines . Leaves opposite, alternate, or whorled ; stipules absent; petiole usually present, well defined; leaf blade simple , herbaceous or slightly fleshy , margin entire. Inflorescences mostly terminal , less often axillary , of cymes, umbels, or verticils , sometimes 1-flowered or fasciculate, often grouped into panicles; bracts often inconspicuous, sometimes forming calyxlike involucre, or large and brightly colored . Flowers bisexual , rarely unisexual or polygamous, actinomorphic . Perianth constricted beyond the ovary, base persistent , closely enclosing ovary which appears inferior, limb petaloid beyond constriction, tubular , funnelform , or campanulate , apex 5-10-lobed, lobes plicate or valvate in bud, persistent or caducous . Disk absent. Stamens (1-) 3-5(-many), hypogynous, free or connate at base, involute in bud; anthers 2-loculed, dehiscence longitudinal . Ovary superior, 1-loculed; ovule 1. Style 1; stigma globose . Fruit an achenelike anthocarp enclosed by persistent perianth, ribbed or winged , often glandular . Seed 1; endosperm present; embryo straight or curved .

About 30 genera and 300 species: tropics and subtropics, mainly in tropical America; six genera (two introduced ) and 13 species (one endemic, three introduced) in China.[1]

Genus Pisonia

Shrubs , trees , or scandent woody climbers , perennial , usually pubescent (roots unknown, probably woody). Stems erect , arched, or drooping , unarmed or armed with very sharp, often paired , axillary spines, without glutinous bands on internodes. Leaves petiolate , equal or of unequal size in each pair; blade thin or thick and fleshy , base symmetric or nearly so. Inflorescences axillary and terminal , pedunculate , diffuse or congested , compound corymbiform or cymose ; bracts persistent , 2-3 beneath each flower. Flowers unisexual (plants dioecious), chasmogamous ; perianth radially symmetric, limb 5-dentate; perianth of staminate flower broadly or narrowly campanulate or urceolate , narrow tube abruptly expanding to limb, limb often reflexed at maturity; perianth of pistillate flower tubular, not constricted beyond ovary, but ultimately closing over it, upper part persisting as 5 small lobes at tip of fruit; stamens 2-many, exserted; styles short exserted; stigmas penicillate . Fruit oblong to clavate , with 5 rounded or angulate ribs , coriaceous , pubescent or glabrate , ribs bearing 1 or more rows of stalked , sticky glands .

Species 10-50: pantropical .

In the herbarium , the fruits of Pisonia remain sticky for decades. They readily adhere to animals and probably are dispersed primarily by birds. Birds and reptiles have been disabled or killed by becoming entangled in masses of vicid fruits.

All members of Pisonia in the flora appear at the northernmost extremes of their ranges . Pisonia aculeata of Florida and Texas is known only as a subscandent shrub or clambering woody vine , in equatorial climes it may be a tree reaching to 10 m. The genus has not been treated taxonomically in its entirety in the past century.[2]

Physical Description

Species Pisonia grandis

Trees to 14(-30) m ; trunk 30-50(-70) cm in diam. Bark white-gray, with conspicuous furrows and large leaf-scars ; puberulous to nearly glabrous , lenticels conspicuous; branches unarmed . Petiole 1-8 cm; leaf blade elliptic , oblong , or ovate , (7-) 10-20(-30) × (4-) 8-15(-20) cm, papery or membranous, puberulous or glabrescent , lateral veins 8-10 pairs, base rounded or slightly cordate, mostly oblique , margin entire, apex acute to acuminate. Cymes terminal , 1-4 × 3-5 cm; peduncle ca. 1.5 cm, with light brown hairs . Flowers bisexual . Pedicel 1-1.5 mm, apex with 2-4 oblong bracteoles. Perianth tube funnelform , ca. 4 mm, 5-lobed, with 5 rows of black glands . Stamens 6-10, exserted. Stigma fimbriate, included . Fruit clavate , ca. 1.2 cm × 2.5 mm, 5-ribbed, with sessile glands, without persistent perianth, rib with a row of viscid prickles, hairy between the ribs. Seed 9-10 × 1.5-2 mm. Fl. summer, fr. late summer-autumn. [source]

In the Xisha Qundao (part of the South China Sea Islands archipelago), Pisonia grandis is a dominant tree in the forests , often forming pure stands. [source]

Habit: Tree , Shrub


Forests .[3].

Typically found in water with a depth of 0 to -5,663 meters (0 to -18,579 feet).[4]

Biome: Marine .


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Duration: Perennial


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Ceodes grandis (R. Brown) D. Q. Lu.


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: 15-Mar-2000

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Pisonia

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 15 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

P. aculeata (Devils Claw) · P. alba (Cabbage Tree) · P. albida (Corcho Bobo) · P. brunoniana (Australasian Catchbirdtree) · P. capitata (Mexican Devil's-Claws) · P. donnell-smithii (Cagalero) · P. floridana (Rock Key Devil's-Claws) · P. grandis (Grand Devil's-Claws) · P. notundata (Pisonia) · P. rotundata (Smooth Devil's-Claws) · P. sandwicensis (Aulu) · P. subcordata (Water Mampoo) · P. umbellifera (Umbrella Catchbirdtree) · P. wagneriana (Kauai Catchbirdtree) · P. zapallo (Francisco Alvarez)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal February 28, 2008:



  1. Dequan Lu & Michael G. Gilbert "Nyctaginaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 5 Page 430. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. John S. Clement & Richard W. Spellenberg "Pisonia". in Flora of North America Vol. 4 Page 14, 15, 16, 71. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  3. "Pisonia grandis". in Flora of China Vol. 5 Page 431. Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  4. Mean = -903.550 meters (-2,964.403 feet), Standard Deviation = 1,543.660 based on 40 observations. Ocean depth information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-01-30