Arctopus echinatus

Common names: Flat-thorn (Eng.) Sieketroos (Afr.)

It is that time of year when people – and dogs – experience the Flat-thorn.
Growing profusely in Steenbok it can be irritating for dogs due to their spiny margins and sharp recurved thorns between the leaf divisions.

A unique feature is this plant is that it is dioecious (sexes on different plants) with the flowers occurring in the centre of the spread of prostrate leaves.

The male flowers (picture left) are cream and borne on short flower stalks while the female flowers (picture right) are greenish and stalkless.


It has an extremely thick, tuberous taproot which is used in traditional medicine and in ancient times were used by the Khoi tribes. One of its Afrikaans names, sieketroos, means comfort for the sick. The root is known to be used as a decoction as well as a resin to be applied to he skin.

The name Arctopus is derived from Greek for ‘bear’s foot’ referring to the broad leaves that lie flat on the ground.
Picture this:  paw-shaped leaves, armed with large recurved thorns or ‘claws’, you will never look at this plant again in the same light now, will you?!?!?!