Scientific name: Tribulus terrestris

What Is It?

Puncturevine is a small, typically low-growing annual plant that produces sharp, spine-covered fruits that contain seeds. The fruits split further into five smaller sections that each contain seeds and have two prominent spines and several smaller prickles. It is often found in disturbed areas such as pastures, roadsides, orchards, vineyards, waste places, parks, railway yards, and agricultural areas.

Is It Here Yet?

Yes. Puncturevine is established across most of the country. In Washington it is mostly present east of the Cascade Mountains. It has been reported in Clark County and Cowlitz County, though in Clark County it was successfully eradicated.

Why Should I Care?

Puncturevine’s spiny fruits can injure people and animals. The leaves are toxic to livestock and the spiny fruits can pierce through the soles of shoes and bicycle tires. The seeds can live 3-7 years when buried, making it difficult to remove an infestation.

How Can We Stop It?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved use of two weevils for control of puncturevine, but they’re less effective in colder areas because they can’t survive the winters. Contact the Integrated Weed Control Project for more information.

Mechanical control methods such as digging and pulling are effective, but take care not to let the seed fall off the plant, and be sure to dispose of the plant and seeds properly so they don’t sprout later.

Removing plants before they can produce seeds is ideal. Cleaning shoes, tires, and gear to remove puncturevine seeds will help prevent its spread. For specific control recommendations, please contact your county noxious weed control board.

What Are Its Characteristics?

  • Small yellow flowers with five petals.
  • 1- to 3-inch-long leaves are compound, with leaflets 1/4 inch long.
  • Plants form a dense mat of vegetation.
  • Small, tough, spiky seed pods.

Additional Photographs