En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - September 21, 2006

From: Midland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Control methods for Tribulus terrestris, Goatheads or Puncturevine
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have some land that has so many goatheads we can't do anything with it. We would like to know what if anything will remove them from our place. There has to be something out there that will kill these goatheads out. REALLY BAD HERE. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Goathead (aka Puncturevine), Tribulus terrestris is a pernicious weedy introduction from Europe which now has nearly global distribution. It is a member of the Caltrop family, Zygophyllaceae. Both the common family name, Caltrop, and the genus name, Tribulus, refer to a particularly wicked iron weapon of ancient origin known as a caltrop used to incapacitate horses, other war animals and foot soldiers.

Puncturevine prefers and thrives in disturbed soils, especially over-grazed land. Improved land management is often the first and best step to take in controlling the weed. An annual plant, it does not compete well with other plants, especially turf grasses. If overgrazing or missing, groundcovering plants are not the issue on your land, there are other control strategies available.

If the amount of land affected is small, removal by hand is probably your best control method. It is best to remove the young plants by hand-pulling, hoeing or tilling before they go to seed. Since your plants are already producing seeds, you should pull, hoe or chop out the existing plants, rake or sweep up the spiney fruits, go over the soil with a piece of scrap carpet, rug or other nappy cloth and burn everything you pick up.

Other control methods include the use of introduced weevils and burning with propane torches. Both methods will likely yield much less than complete control, but may make sense if you're dealing with large acreage. Your county agricultural extension service agent may also be able to help as others in your area are dealing with the same pest.

Finally, we are including some links here for much more information about Goatheads:
Texas A&M's Toxic Plant Database
The UC Davis, IPM Online website
The Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board website
The California Department of Food and Agriculture Weed Information website
The North Dakota Department of Agriculture Invasive Species Manual
 

More Vines Questions

Blueberries & Raspberries for Walla Walla WA
October 17, 2011 - Which blueberry and raspbery plants grow best and suvive winter in Walla Walla Washington
view the full question and answer

Trumpet vine care
October 31, 2007 - I planted a trumpet vine in the early summer of this year. It grew about 3-4 ft. and seemed healthy. It is now Oct. 25th, and I just noticed that all the leaves seem to have shrivelled up and gone b...
view the full question and answer

Vine for limited space, part-shade fence in N. Texas
June 14, 2009 - I have a narrow strip of yard (about 3ft) between my covered patio and privacy fence. Since the fence itself lacks visual interest, I'd like to find a vine to grow on the fence to give the backgroun...
view the full question and answer

Vine to cover pile of tree limbs
August 13, 2013 - I have a pile of tree limbs in my yard. I'd like to find a (flowering or not) vine type plant native to the Austin TX area that will eventually grow all over and cover this pile. Thanks for any sug...
view the full question and answer

Identification of a vine in El Paso, Texas
November 23, 2012 - I live in Del Rio Texas - Zone 8/9 and I have a vine which can't be identified. It looks like a morning glory white flower with crimson throat, but the leaf pattern is like a 5-7 fingered hand with d...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center