The name Devil’s Claw refers to the barbs of the fruit that stick to the claws of animals and are thus dispersed. These barbs are also difficult to remove and can cause serious injury. It owes its scientific name, Harpagophytum, to the shape of its woody fruit that reminds us of a grappling hook, harpagos in Greek.
The name Devil’s Claw can give rise to confusion as there are two Alpine plants in the Campanulaceae family that bear the same name. We differentiate between the globe-headed Devil’s Claw, also known as globe-headed Rampion (Phyteuma hemisphaericum) and the round-headed Devil’s Claw, also known as round-headed Rampion (Phyteuma orbiculare). Neither of these is used medicinally.