Cat’s Claw

Cat’s claw, popoki, puakelekino (Caesalpinia decapetala)



  • Sprawling, climbing bramble or shrub with thorns on stems and leaves
  • Yellow flowers in clusters, brown pods, with 4-9 black seeds
  • Native to tropical Asia, introduced to Hawaii for use as a natural fence. First collected on Oahu in 1910, transported to Maui on construction equipment from another island


  • Forms dense, thorny thickets, and grows into trees
  • Closes off pastures to animals.
  • Hazardous to animals (a dead cow was found caught in a thicket on Kauai)
  • Prevents hiking, hunting and other activities where infestations occur

In Hawaii:

  • Kauai and Oahu: Widespread and beyond control
  • Maui: Known to only in one gulch-Kakipi (Halehaku). A small satellite population was known from Ulupalakua, but it has since been removed. Not currently a MISC target.
  • Molokai: Infestation in gulches near Kalae appears too large for MoMISC control. Landowners are asked to control this pest where possible.
  • Lanai: Presence/absence unknown.
  • Kahoolawe: None known.
  • Big Island: Population naturalized in Kau. Considered too widespread for BIISC to control. Landowners are asked to control where possible.

For more information, see: