Family: Rubiaceae

Latin name: Uncaria spp.

Vernacular name: Uña de gato

Ethnobotany
This woody vine is used in teas for a number of ailments, including obesity. Women take it for birth control. It is a common ingredient in elixirs (usually with aguardiente). However, its use is more common in the city of Iquitos than it is in rural areas of Loreto. It is said to boost the immune system, provoking interest in its use for AIDS and cancer prevention. Uña de gato is marketed all over Peru, and has been exported for many years. U. tormentosa is supposedly the most potent uña de gato species. This vine is the focus of much research concerning its chemical properties.

Agroforestry
Many farmers consider it a bothersome weed in their fields because the thorns (“cats claws”) rip clothing and flesh. It can engulf and choke out crops. It is cultivated, especially in the area of Pucallpa. Most uña de gato is harvested from forests.

Uña de gato products from Peru- tea bags and liquor.

Uña de gato products from Peru- tea bags and liquor.

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