How to get rid of goat head stickers in your yard?

Three-step plan will eliminate goathead stickers

Dear Neil: We have an entire yard that’s being taken over by painful, prolific goathead stickers. How does one completely eradicate their yard of these plants so we can use our outdoor space again?

Answer: They are bad! Anyone who has experienced goatheads firsthand (or firstfoot) knows they are major league versions of the lightweight little grassburs. Goatheads can puncture bicycle tires and footballs. I’ve been there. Use a broadleafed weedkiller (containing 2,4-D) as a spray onto their foliage. It’s most effective when the weeds are growing most actively, and even then, it takes 10 to 15 days for it to eradicate the weeds. Of course, the goatheads themselves are the seeds for next year, and they’re going to persist, whether or not you kill the plants. Your best bets next year would be threefold. First, apply a pre-emergent weedkiller containing Gallery in early March and again in early June. Second, if you still see a few of the plants germinate and grow next spring and early summer, apply the broadleafed 2,4-D spray earlier next year — before they go to seed. Third, do whatever you can to foster stronger turfgrass. Hopefully rainfall will be better, which should allow your grass to thicken and crowd out the weeds. (For the record, broadleafed weedkillers will not help control grassburs at all. Your only recourse there is with a pre-emergent such as Balan, Halts, Team or Dimension.)

Dear Neil: I have three 5-year-old crape myrtles growing in full sun. They’re in the same area, and they’re treated the very same way, yet for the past two years, they’ve had many buds that have failed to open. They’ve been watered with an automatic sprinkling system. What can we do to correct that?

Answer: This year specifically, many crape myrtles have stalled out during their blooming cycles. I work a lot with a crape myrtle project being done by a not-for-profit organization, and I’ve watched about 8,000 plants of some 40 varieties. This year, you actually can see differences in how the varieties have handled the heat and drought. So, that heat may be part of your issue, even with proper watering. That said, for all of my career, I’ve been asked this very question, and prior to this year, every one of the dozens of cases I’ve actually seen in person ended up being seed heads that had formed immediately following the flowering. People would be gone for a week or two, and they’d come home to find their crape myrtles looking the same as when they left. Strange as it seems, crape myrtles’ seed heads look very much like their swollen flower buds. You might try cutting through one of them with a single-edged razor blade to see if you see seeds developing, or if you see primordial petals of an actual flower bud. This is a wide-ranging answer, and I hope some part of it is of help.

Dear Neil: My Knockout roses have had a traumatic summer. Between the heat, drought and grasshoppers, they’re almost bare. Should I trim them back?

Answer: It’s fine to tidy them up by pruning them as much as 25 percent, but I wouldn’t do anything more than that this late in the season. If you can reshape them gently, apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer to promote new fall growth, and water them deeply to get the fertilizer into the root zone, you should see good bloom within six to eight weeks.

Dear Neil: We have been convinced by this hot, dry summer to try xeriscaping our backyard. Where can I find good information on doing so?

Answer: Look at websites such as “Aggie Horticulture” (the Texas A&M Horticulture Department’s website), the Native Plant Society of Texas website, The National Wildflower Research Center website and the site for Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg. You’ll find scores of matches if you’ll just enter “xeriscape Texas landscapes.” That said, I do have one warning. I’ve decided the most prudent way to explain my feelings is to say, “Don’t landscape to the extremes.” If you’re in a drought, don’t plant only desert plants, because things can change. If you live in a dry area, but if you have an unusually wet season, don’t landscape as if you had wetlands. If you have two or three consecutive warm winters, don’t switch over to tropical plantings. Use common sense, middle-of-the-road design ideas for your part of Texas. Be sure all the plants you include are truly adapted to your soils and to your normal climate.

Dear Neil: How long should we leave a chinquapin oak staked? Ours is in its third summer. We don’t want it to blow over in a windstorm.

Answer: Research has show tree trunks actually thicken faster if they’re allowed to flex in normal breezes. The reason we stake trees is to keep the root balls from tipping, leaving the tree trunks at an angle. By the end of this season, once your tree’s leaves have fallen, you should be able to remove the stakes safely.

How do I remove “goat heads”? Answered

I found this info and thought you might find it useful. I am seeking and destroying all of this noxious weed I find with my bare hands. Fight the good fight! Never give up!

Weaknesses are to be exploited. Puncturevine doesn’t compete well
with other vegetation. I have minimized the growth of this plant by
merely encouraging natural vegetation to cover the open areas and reduce
the potential for growth. A healthy lawn will choke out puncturevine
in a short time. Contrary to popular belief, over watering puncturevine
will not kill it. In fact it will very likely make it grow like crazy.
I think this comes from the fact that wet areas are seldom devoid of
vegetation and that by itself will discourage Puncturevines from
growing. Watering dry areas and encouraging the seed to sprout is a
good idea as long as you go spray within one to two weeks. The same
goes after a rain.

Puncturevine Weevils are a natural predator to Puncturevines. They
are host specific, which means they eat Puncturevines and only
Puncturevines. The adult female seed weevil deposits an egg in a small
hole she chews in the green seed. Then she seals it with fecal
material. The egg hatches and burrows its way inside the green seed.
In the process eating the viable portion of the seed, so it can not
sprout a new plant. The weevil larvae will spend its entire larval
stage inside the seed. It actually pupates within the seed and emerges
from the seed as an adult. The stem weevil works in the same manner
only attacking the stem of the plant. Stem Weevils will inhibit the
plant’s ability to grow and spread. Unfortunately, Puncturevine Weevils
aren’t perfect. They won’t find every single seed. The thing to keep
in mind is every seed a weevil eats is a seed that can’t sprout. Each
adult female weevil will lay 250 – 450 eggs. Eggs will reach
reproductive adult age in about 25 days. This is dependent upon
accumulated heat units. As weevil numbers continue to build, they will
become more and more effective. Cold winters will inhibit
survivability. Regions with moderate winters are most conducive to over

Getting Rid Of Puncturevine Weeds

Native to Europe and Asia, puncturevine weed (Tribulus terrestris) is a mean, nasty plant that creates havoc wherever it grows. Keep reading to learn about puncturevine control.

Puncturevine Control

This low-growing, carpet-forming plant is considered a noxious weed in several states, including Nevada, Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado and Idaho.

What makes puncturevine weed so vicious? This plant produces spiny seed burs that are sharp enough to cause severe pain to feet and hooves. They are sturdy enough to puncture rubber or leather, which means they can poke through shoe soles or bike tires. The spiny burs are harmful to agricultural crops, such as wool and hay, and they can damage the mouths and digestive tracts of livestock.

It’s easy to understand why getting rid of puncturevine is a high priority.

How to Kill Puncturevine

Small infestations of puncturevine aren’t difficult to pull when the plant is young and the soil is moist, but you’ll need a shovel and a lot

of elbow grease if the soil is dry and compacted (puncturevine weed loves hard soil.) The key to success is to pull puncturevine before the burs begin to form.

If you’re a little late and you notice little green burs, act quickly and pull the weeds before the burs turn brown and dry because the seed will soon be released onto the soil. Mowing this ground-hugging plant isn’t an option.

You can also hoe or till the surface of the soil, but penetrating the ground more than an inch will only bring buried seeds to the top where they can germinate. You’re bound to stimulate growth of new weeds in spite of your best efforts, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just be persistent and, in time, you’ll gain the upper hand on those seeds stored in the soil.

Seeds will continue to sprout throughout the summer, so plan on pulling or hoeing every three weeks.

Puncturevine Control in Lawns

The best way to attain puncturevine control in lawns is to keep your lawn green and lush, as a healthy stand of grass will choke out the weeds. Feed and water your lawn as usual, but keep in mind that watering will encourage puncturevine to sprout like crazy. This may seem counterintuitive, but the faster you deal with all the seeds buried in the soil, the sooner you can ultimately gain the upper hand.

Keep a close watch and pull the vine from your lawn while the seedlings are small. Continue every three weeks all summer.

If the vine is out of control, you can spray the weeds with 2,4-D, which will kill the weed but spare your lawn. Keep in mind, however, that 2,4-D spray will kill any ornamental plants it touches. If you decide to go this route, read the label carefully and follow the directions to the letter.

Goatheads: No More Puncturevine

Buy Your Bugs Here! is an unusual name for an unusual product, but owner Roak TenEyck is enjoying growing success with his online business. TenEyck devotes his business to the eradication of noxious Puncturevine weeds, also known as Goatheads, scientific name Tribulus terrestris. Depending on your area of the country, Puncturevine may be a plant you’ve never heard of; it’s a widespread problem in areas with dry, arid climates like Umatilla, Oregon, where TenEyk lives. Our neck of the woods, the southern Willamette Valley, does have Puncturevine infestations but we’re not faring as badly as other places. “Without ever seeing the plant and seeing how devastating the plant can be a person really doesn’t appreciate the problem,” says TenEyck. “This thing develops a thorn on it that’s between a 1/4 and a 1/2 inch long that can go through a bicycle tire. If you step on one in your carpet it will make you want to scream out in pain. To step on one is to truly appreciate what it can do.”
Puncturevine is a plant designed to survive, and fighting it is a real battle. “These seeds lay dormant 3 to 5 years before they sprout, and they can last as many as 20 years in the right conditions,” TenEyck declares. “It grows with no moisture where nothing else will. It really does deserve our respect and our total attention.”
TenEyck’s Puncturevine odyssey began 17 years ago in Umatilla, when TenEyck was working for an agricultural chemical company as a field man. He came across a list of biological weed control agents, and found an insect that ate only Puncturevine. “I thought, ‘hey, this is something I want to play with, how do I get some?’” TenEyck purchased some Puncturevine weevils (Microlarinus Lareyni), but was warned that the weevils would have a hard time getting established in Umatilla’s harsh winter climates. TenEyck wanted to try anyway, so he turned them loose. “I didn’t see much that summer,” he says. “I thought it was one of those things that was fun to play with but I didn’t see much activity. Then the next year I was out looking at some Puncturevine and noticed holes in the sides of the seeds. I opened up a few other seeds and found that they had either a hole in the center of the seed or else a little white larvae.”
TenEyck realized immediately that the Puncturevine weevils he had released had not only survived but had spread to other areas of his community. “I just kind of watched them, and within 4 or 5 years I found them all over town. I could go to all four corners of town and anywhere in between and find Puncturevine weevils working on this plant,” he says. “I kept watching them and as I would tell people about what had happened and what I was doing they wanted some too.” TenEyck purchased more weevils for other folks tormented by Puncturevine, and all the time they were urging him to turn his interest in these creatures into a business. Finally, after another couple of years, he did just that.
“I went to a local web design host that built my first website and away we went,” says TenEyck. “Each year it’s grown and gotten bigger and every year we get more and more customers as more people find out about us.” By nature, biological solutions are slow to work, but every seed a weevil eats is a seed that can’t sprout. The weevils eat the viable portion in the middle of the seed. “You can still step on the darn thing but it won’t grow a new plant.”
Customers found TenEyck’s first website inconvenient to navigate, and TenEyck believes he lost many sales from customers simply giving up before getting through all of the roadblocks to finalize a purchase. TenEyck began searching for a new designer, and found one while enrolled in a business class through his local college. His instructor knew of a web designer, but the firm wasn’t taking any more clients, so they referred him to HEROweb and the MightyMerchant Ecommerce Platform. “Our new website with HEROweb has been a huge boon to us just due to the fact that our new webpage is so much easier to use,” TenEyck says. “We have really increased a lot of our sales just in that way.”
The content of TenEyck’s new website is basically the same, with some subtle changes and a greatly improved shopping experience. The new design is more convenient for TenEyck as well as the customers. “It’s much better, as far as being able to monitor the site, check our progress, see where our customers are coming from and what time they are receiving our orders,” he says. “Processing the paperwork is so much easier for us and a lot more efficient, and we get a lot more information with a couple clicks than we did before.” is a seasonal business; they only sell weevils from the first of July to the end of September, giving them just three short months each year. The rest of the time the site sells propane weed burners, “No Goatheads” hats, t-shirts and other related products. “We try to be available to answer questions like ‘what do I do with this mess’ type of things, and we offer all kinds of advice on using herbicides, burning, using competition and all kinds of ways to get rid of weeds,” he says.
TenEyck estimates that 55% of his business goes to Texas, while they also sell Puncturevine weevils to Arizona, New Mexico, California, Washington, Idaho, Oklahoma, Colorado and throughout Oregon. “We’ve had calls from 6,000 feet all the way to sea level.” Being a seasonal business means is not TenEyck’s only job. He was a wine-grape growing consultant for many years and has recently returned to the agricultural work he was doing when he discovered the weevils. “As people find out about us, that one person tells a few people and they tell a few people and as we get more customers we’re able to advertise a little more and that’s where we are now,” he says. “I feel like we’re still in our infancy. We’ve got plenty of room to go up, up, up, and as we continue to climb we just try to reach out as much as we can.”
TenEyck says the friendly support he’s gotten since switching to HEROweb has made a big difference to him. “All the way from the very first phone call to today has just been a wonderful, wonderful experience. It’s gone so well and I’ve been totally, totally happy.”
We hope all of our clients feel this way about us. Thanks Roak! And thanks to all of our customers who make HEROweb such a wonderful place!

Save The Tires—Adopt a Goathead Weevil!

Autumn is arguably the best time to cycle in Utah. The oppressive heat of summer backs off, and the ozone pollution hanging heavy over the valley dissipates to a light haze—and by the end of September, even that haze evaporates, leaving behind dazzling blue skies. Unfortunately, now is also the time for the bane of cyclists everywhere: goatheads. The pernicious thorny seeds dropped by the Tribulus terrestris (also known as puncture vine, Mexican/Texas sandbur, caltrop and bullhead) have caused more people to consider ditching cycling than perhaps any other single annoyance. The little burs can litter sidewalks and the sides of roads. I’ve cruised through bad patches and looked down to see dozens of them embedded in my tires. And for people who aren’t accustomed to patching inner tubes on the side of the road, this can be a major frustration.

You might be familiar with the goathead bur but have not connected it to the delicate low-growing plant frequently found along sidewalk edges that produces said evil seeds. Tribulus terrestris, native to the Mediterranean, is an annual forb (an herbaceous flowering plant that isn’t a grass). Its most defining feature is the way its vines radiate out from a central hub—usually most apparent when coming up through cracks in the pavement. It can be found most often along roadsides and embankments, where it can completely dominate (I’ve walked through short patches—maybe five or six feet wide—and come out the other side with the soles of my shoes completely covered in goat heads). Every inch or so along the vine you’ll find a tiny, five-petaled yellow or purple flower—until autumn, that is, when those flowers turn into the nasty burs. The plant is considered invasive in the United States. In addition to being the bane of bicyclists, the vines are toxic to grazing animals.

Eradicate your goat heads

Getting rid of Tribulus terrestris is no easy task. It thrives in disturbed soils and needs next to no supplemental water in the Salt Lake area. For small areas, simply pulling the plant when found is the best approach. For larger areas, especially in the fall, a propane torch weeder works well. For really big infestations, if you want to stay away from chemicals, the best approach is to cover the area in the spring with thick, clear plastic for at least 30 days. Unfortunately, this won’t do much to kill off the seed burs. If you decide that the mechanical approach is too difficult or time-consuming, use a pre-emergent herbicide with Surflan in late winter or early spring. This will kill the goat head burs—but it will also kill any other seeds in the area, and it’s not great for established plants, either, so use cautiously and sparingly.

Lastly—put something in place where the goat head infestation was before. Tribulus terrestris is one of those hardy plants that loves disturbed, dry soils. Once you’ve got something else thriving there, the goat heads will lose out.

Adopt a goathead weevil!

For the low price of just $.50 each, you can do your part to fight the goathead invasion on the Jordan River Parkway, which is probably the biggest source of goathead-related punctures in the valley, especially this time of year! The Jordan River Commission is currently experimenting with this biological way of controlling Tribulus terrestris with two little weevils (Microlarinus Lareynii and Microlarinus lypriformis). These little buggers love goathead vines, and seem to be doing a good job already of reducing the plants on the parkway. This is a safe way of attacking this invasive plant, as the weevils only eat goat head vines, and can’t survive the cold Utah winter.

Puncture-proof your bike!

Sadly, there’s no way to completely prevent punctures, but there’s a lot you can do to dramatically cut down the frequency.

Tire liners: Tire liners are probably the cheapest and easiest way to keep flats at bay. They are just strips of thick plastic (or Kevlar, if you want to spend some money) that you put between the tire and the tube. My favorite are RhinoDillos, but STOP Flats are great, too. Just make sure to pay attention to the chart on the box and get the correct length and width to fit your wheel and tire.

Puncture-resistant tubes: If you want to take flat-protection to the next level, check out thorn-resistant tubes. These are simply inner tubes made thicker. They’re more expensive, and weigh quite a bit more than regular tubes, though. I run them in both my commuter and touring bike, and they make a BIG difference.

Puncture-resistant tires: Unfortunately, tire liners will only stop a percentage of the thorns that come in head-on—they do little to prevent punctures in the sidewall of the tire. The cheaper versions are just thicker tires, but if you spend a little more money you can get tires that actually have Kevlar reinforcement. I have a set of these on my touring bike, and combined with liners and thorn-resistant tubes, I almost never get flats when riding. My favorite brand is Continental.

Get Slimy: Last, and very probably least, is Slime. You can put this goop in the tubes you’ve got now if the valve cores can be removed, and you can also buy pre-Slimed inner tubes. Slime is basically a mixture of glycerin, latex, clay and cellulose fiber. When a tube gets a puncture, the Slime is pushed into the hole by the pressure in the tube, where it sort of hardens and gunks up the works. It’s effective, but messy. Eventually it’ll start to harden, especially if the bike is left sitting for extended periods of time, and the tube will need to be replaced.

Be prepared

Even with all these precautions, eventually you will get a flat at some point. Make sure to carry a puncture repair kit when cycling, along with either a small hand pump or a CO2 inflator. I usually also carry a spare inner tube with me, since they’re cheap and don’t weigh too much, as some flats can’t be patched. Patching an inner tube isn’t difficult, but it does take a little practice to get the tire off and back on the wheel. Most puncture repair kits come with a couple of small plastic tools that make getting the tire off a lot easier.

Roadside repair classes are offered at the Salt Lake Bicycle Collective, the University of Utah and REI, and usually cover not only flat repair, but how to replace a thrown chain, how to replace a broken spoke and various adjustments and tips. And for hardcore do-it-yourselfers, there’s always the internet: How to change an inner tube:; How to patch an inner tube:

Not all bad: Medicinal uses of puncture vine

With very few exceptions, nothing is all bad, all the time. This holds true for puncture vine, which has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurveda to increase libido and treat erectile dysfunction. Western medical science, for the most part, has found little evidence of useful effect. That said, some clinical studies indicate that it might be useful for erectile dysfunction in infertile men, as well as for lowering blood pressure for those with hypertension. Little to no result has been seen for fertile men or those with normal blood pressure. One study found that a 3mg supplementation with whole fruits and water extract of goathead vine resulted a small decrease in total cholesterol.

The most significant side effect found in clinical studies was mild upset stomach—so giving it a shot for any or all of these conditions is unlikely to cause any harm. One small note, however: Lab tests with animals have linked use of tribulus to problems in fetal development. The evidence is scant and doesn’t necessarily translate to humans, but regardless, pregnant women shouldn’t eat it.

Pax is a longtime CATALYST staffer currently living in Albuquerque. He works as evaluation faculty at Western Governors University, and teaches magazine writing online for the University of Utah’s Communication department. He and his wife Adele Flail blog at www.

7 Impressive Ways on How to Get Rid of Goathead Weeds

Goathead weeds or puncture plants are found in many parts of the world. They can be harmful to livestock, plants, and animals due to the sharp spines in their fruits or burrs. The seeds of goatheads are hard to destroy, making it difficult to remove these plants. Read this Gardenerdy post to know how to get rid of goathead weeds.


Avoid mowing the goatheads to eradicate them, as they will grow flat against the ground.

The goathead plant (Tribulus terrestris) from the family Zygophyllaceae and order Zygophyllales, is a prostate annual herb that is distributed around the world. The plant is found in parts of southern Europe, southern Asia, Africa, and Australia. It can grow in various types of soils. It mostly grows in spring and summer. Germination requires warm temperatures and moisture. After the plant matures, it can tolerate arid soils as well as hot and dry conditions as it develops a deep taproot to pull in water. The plant produces many prostate stems that emerge from the crown to produce a thick mat. The leaves are dark green, opposite, and hairy. The fruits are woody burrs with sharp and projecting spines. The seeds are covered with a hard caltrop-like case. Some other common names for the plant are puncturevine, bindii, caltrop, devil’s thorn, and tackweed.

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The plant can cause harm to livestock and people if it comes in contact with their feet. The spines of the fruit can cause injury. If these plants grow in orchards, pastures, among crops, or on the roadside, they may harm the grazing animals by causing injury to their mouth and digestive system due to the spines. Their leaves are also toxic for animals when consumed in large amounts. They can also cause necrosis of the skin, lead to blindness and in extreme cases, they may even cause deaths of young animals.

Ways to Get Rid of Goathead Weeds

▸ To get rid of a goathead weed, pull the entire plant slowly from its taproot before it starts producing seeds. If pulling by hands, wear heavy-duty gloves. Then discard the plants by placing them in a plastic bag and sealing it. After doing this, burrs or seeds might drop on the soil. They can be removed by sweeping the ground or patting it with a carpet to which the burrs will stick. A pumpkin can also be used for this purpose. Roll the pumpkin over the soil and the goatheads will get stuck into its flesh. Then discard the pumpkins. To remove a plant which has already produced seeds, take care to not knock it off while pulling it out. Most importantly, keep a regular watch on the new growth of weeds.

▸ Get rid of goatheads by burning the seed pods and plants. Never allow the weeds to dry out or remain unmonitored. This will lead the seeds to come loose and disperse.

▸ Another way is placing thick organic or synthetic mulch in the soil to control goatheads in orchards, plants, crops, and pastures because they can prevent light from entering the soil. However, this is not a very effective way because if the burrs happen to fall on the mulch, they can start growing due to its deep taproot.

▸ Maintaining aeration of soil and use of competing plants is another effective way of getting rid of goatweeds. Aeration is done by creating perforations in the soil so that more air, water, and nutrients can enter it. This will favor the growth of more plants and limit resources for the weeds. The reason behind planting competitive plants is that the weeds do not compete well and do not survive when near other plants, mostly perennials.

▸ Two types of biocontrol organisms called puncture vine weevils are known for eating goatheads. They are the Microlarinus lareynii, which eats the seeds and Microlarinus lypriformis which eats the stem, branches, and crowns of the weed.

The adult weevil (Microlarinus lareynii) eats a burr or seed and lays an egg in it. The egg hatches and the larva feeds on the seed. It enters deep into the seed and destroys it. Microlarinus lypriformis has the same life cycle. The only difference is that it lays its eggs on the stems, branches, and the crown of the weed. The larvae feed on the stem and make their way deep into the stems or branches. The adults come out of the stems, branches, or crowns. In this way, the stems and branches are destroyed. It is best to use both the weevils at the same time to kill the weeds. However, the weevils do not survive well in winters.

▸ Spraying of post-emergent herbicides like those containing 2,4-D, glyphosate and dicamba are also very effective in controlling the weeds. Prepare a solution by diluting the herbicide and then use it onto the soil or on the goathead plants. However, always follow the instructions given on the label of the herbicide. While doing this, take care that other plants are not injured. Also, the herbicide should not be overused. To prevent the plants from emerging, use a pre-emergent herbicide before germination.

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▸ Freezing is also another good way of killing the plant. Puncture vines do not survive in cold conditions. The sustainability of the plants is less during the autumn and winter seasons.

Points to Consider

▸ Keep goatheads away from shoes, car or bicycle tires, and wheels of mowers or carts.

▸ Do not buy puncture vine weevils from biological control suppliers as weevils from another place may not survive in your area.

▸ Avoid composting goathead weeds in the composter as they will germinate.

▸ Before burning the weeds, water the surrounding area thoroughly. Additionally, keep a water hose readily available nearby, in case the fire starts spreading.

▸ Check with your local fire department for regulations prior to burning. Some will require a burn permit.

▸ Avoid burning goatheads in windy conditions.

These ways and tips to get rid of goatheads should help you in saving other plants in your orchard or garden from these weeds and in avoiding the harm they might cause to you or the livestock.

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Getting Rid Of Goat Heads (Tribulus terrestris)

Goat head plants are thick in the yard. The whole yard is covered! Each year the problem multiplies. I have tried spot spraying with Round Up. It kills that plant, but doesn’t seem to kill seeds that are ready to sprout.

I have been pulling weeds for 3 days now, and the stickers that lay on the ground seem to jump at you when you try to pull up the weeds. I am on very low income, so if you can help, I would really appreciate it.

Also, once I get rid of the plants, do you have any suggestions on how to get the spurs out of the yard so that we can finally walk on it again?

Hardiness Zone: 9b

Susan from San Bernardino, CA


Getting Rid Of Goat Heads

The feedback below was from a previously posted request. It has a good suggestion for getting the stickers out of your yard. Good luck. I don’t miss goat heads at all now that I live in the NW.


“I don’t know how to get rid of goat heads chemically; you need to pull them in the spring. To get rid of them in yard once they are dried, staple a piece of carpeting (not shag) to a 2X4 about 3 ft. long, attach a length of rope to both ends making a loop, then drag it behind you. You may have to replace the carpeting a couple times, but it will grab the goat heads. (07/02/2007))”

By lalala…

The only thing I’ve found that works is to pull and pull again! When we moved into our home the backyard was filled with them. Now, after more than 20 years of pulling, we only get the random plant or two. The main thing is to get them pulled before the stickers dry out, preferably when they are still flowering and haven’t yet formed seeds. As for picking up the dropped “heads”, I usually use thick garden gloves and just pick them up with my fingers. Yes, it is very time consuming, but I figure it is time well spent. We now have a yard we can easily walk barefoot in! (02/14/2008)


By Leslie

I got rid of ours by hoeing them about every two weeks for the first month or so. Then later in the summer a few seedlings showed up, so I did it again. That was 20 years ago and they’ve just showed up again in the last two years. When I hoed them, I tried to turn them upside down so they wouldn’t re-root, but I don’t know if that’s necessary. (02/14/2008)

By Coreen Hart

I live in southwest NM where goatheads are a real plague. I found that the easiest way to minimize their impact is burning them off with a roofing burner every few weeks. You should do this especially shortly after it rains, when the seedlings are out everywhere, but before they had a chance to start seeding (2-3 weeks after the rain).

After a few times, they don’t come back. This works easier than trying to pull them, and you get a lot of the seeds in the ground as well.

You could also try the goathead weevils as advertised on this website: I cannot speak from personal experience how effective that is. (02/10/2009)

By Geert

Plants of Texas Rangelands

Goathead, Puncturevine

Tribulus terrestris

Zygophyllaceae (Caltrop family)


Goathead is an annual weed in the caltrop family. The prostrate stems radiate from a tap root and bear pairs of opposite leaves. The flattened fruit resembles a goat’s head. It breaks into five nutlets, each bearing two strong, woody spines, hence the name puncturevine. The flowers are small and have five yellow petals.


Goathead is an introduced weed from Europe. Widely distributed in disturbed areas and along trails and roadsides, it may abound in severely overgrazed pastures. It is found throughout Texas except on the Gulf Coast and extreme eastern part of the state.

Toxic Agent

The plant causes hepatogenous photosensitization in sheep and possibly also in cattle. All parts of the plant are toxic at all growth stages, but wilted plants are the most hazardous. Goathead also can accumulate high levels of nitrate. The spiny burs this plant produces are mechanically dangerous, producing lesions on the mouth or feet.

Signs of Livestock Ingestion

In natural cases, typical lesions of severe hepatogenous photosensitization were seen, including: Blindness; Peeling of light-colored skin; Loss of lips and ears; High mortality of young animals.

Nitrate poisoning signs also may be evident (see Description of Animal Conditions).

Washington State

Tribulus terrestris

Family: Zygophyllaceae


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.

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 Does it Reproduce?

Puncturevine reproduces by seed.

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. Make sure to treat plants before they develop seeds. 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 postcard for early detection information about puncturevine.

See our brochureon puncturevine.

See our brochure in Spanish on puncturevine.

See our Written Findings for more information about puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris).

Franklin County NWCB Fact Sheet on puncturevine

Stevens County NWCB Fact Sheet on puncturevine

Franklin County NWCB Brochure on punturevine and Bermuda grass

Control Options for puncturevine from Lincoln County NWCB

Weed Report from the book Weed Control in Natural Areas in the Western United States

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