puncturevine

Tribulus terrestris

   

Family: Zygophyllaceae

Other common names: caltrop, goathead, cat's-head, devil's thorn

Weed Class: B

Year Listed: 1988

Native to: Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe

Toxic: livestock

additional photos

 

   

Why is it a noxious weed?

Puncturevine is a toxic plant and a serious weed in pastures, roadsides, waste places and cultivated fields. The spines of the fruit can cause damage to animals and people. It’s a problem to the fruit pickers when growing in orchards or vineyards.

How would I identify it?

General Description: Puncturevine is an annual herb growing flat along the ground, from a simple, woody taproot. The fruit is a woody burr with sharp, rigid spines (strong enough to puncture bicycle tires or penetrate shoe soles).

Flower Description: The small, yellow flowers are borne on short stalks at leaf nodes. Flowers are solitary and have 5 petals, 5 sepals and 10 stamens.

Leaf Description: Leaves are opposite, oblong and have short stalks. They are 1 to 3 inches long and pinnately compound (having leaflets). Each leaflet is 1/4 inch long.

Stem Description: Stems are numerous and up to 6 feet long. They form a dense mat.

Fruit/Seed Description: The fruit is a woody burr with sharp, rigid spines.

May be confused with:

How does it reproduce?

Puncturevine reproduces by seed.
 

Where does it grow?

Puncturevine is found in pastures, roadsides, waste places, parks, agricultural areas. Please click here to see a county level distribution map of puncturevine in Washington.
 

How do I control it?

General Control Strategy

Puncturevine spreads by seed so controlling plants prior to seed production will prevent further seed entering the seedbank. When working in puncturevine infestations, make sure to clean shoes, clothing and tires to prevent spreading seeds to other areas. After puncturevine control, plant areas with site appropriate plants to provide competition and reduce further puncturevine invasion.

Mechanical Control

Puncturevine can be hand-pulled or controlled by hoeing, ideally prior to seed formation in the spring. If plants have already produced seeds, make sure to remove all possible spiny burrs from the ground. Make sure to wear gloves when removing puncturevine and be careful of the sharp spines. Shallow tilling can also be used in the spring to control the plant prior to flower and seed development. Mowing is ineffective due to the plant’s low growth form.

Cultural Control

Biological Control

The puncturevine seed weevil, Microlarinus lareynii, and the puncturevine stem weevil, Microlarinus lypriformis are two biocontrol agents that can provide good control when used together. The puncturevine seed weevil larvae destroy developing seeds and the adults can cause damage by feeding on stems, leaves, flowers and fruits. The puncturevine stem weevil larvae feed within the stems and root crowns and the adults feed on the stems and leaves. Both of these insects may have a harder time establishing in climates with cold winter temperatures.For more information about the biological control of puncturevine, please visit WSU Extension Integrated Weed Control Project.

Herbicide Control

Appropriate herbicide use can provide effective control of puncturevine. After the plants have emerged from the soil, postemergent, products are effective. The smaller or younger the plant, the better the postemergent herbicides work. When choosing a soil applied chemical for puncturevine control, consider whether a selective or non-selective product is needed. Always read the label instructions before applying any herbicides for proper rate and timing. Use chemicals that are compatible with your goals. Please refer to the PNW Weed Management Handbook, or contact your county noxious weed coordinator.


 

For more information

 
See our brochure on puncturevine.
See our brochure in Spanish on puncturevine.
See our postcard for early detection information about puncturevine.
See our Written Findings for more information about puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris).

Additional Photos


 
 

Puncturevine spreading along ground

Puncturevine seeds stuck on shoe

leaves and flowers

5 petal yellow flower and leaves divided into leaflets

close up of spiny maturing fruit

dense low growth of puncturevine

pulled up puncturevine plant

spiny burred fruit

    

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