Family: Zygophyllaceae (Creosote-Bush Family)
Duration and Habit: Annual Herb
Noxious summer annual, with prostrate stems up to 2.4 m long. Plants produce many stout-spined burrs that can injure people and animals and puncture bicycle tires. Foliage is toxic to livestock, especially sheep, when consumed in quantity. Fruits are used medicinally in India. Puncturevine is currently controlled by the stem weevil (Microlarinus lypriformis) and seed weevil (M. lareynii), introduced from Italy as biocontrol agents in 1961.
Biology & Spread: Reproduces by seed. Nutlets disperse by adhering to tires, shoes and clothing of people, fur, feathers, and feet of animals. Most newly matured seeds are dormant and require an afterripening period of ~ 6 months to 1 year. Germination requires warm temperatures. The largest seed in a nutlet is usually the first to germinate. Other seeds may germinate or remain dormant depending on moisture availability. Buried seed can remain viable for several years. Seedlings emerge early spring through summer, often in flushes following increased soil moisture. On sandy soils, seedlings emerge from depths to ~ 5 cm (less on heavy soils). Seedlings develop a deep root system in a few weeks, and flowers may be produced within 3 weeks, burrs within 6 weeks. Plants typically bear numerous burrs (average 200-5000) until the cool season commences. In tropical regions, plants develop woody roots and become perennial.
History: Introduced from the Mediterranean region.
U.S. Habitat: Disturbed places, roadsides, railways, cultivated fields, yards, waste places, walk ways. Grows best on dry sandy soils, but tolerates most soil types. Intolerant of freezing temperatures.
U.S. Nativity: Introduced to U.S.
Native Origin: Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe
U.S. Present: AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WY
List All Observations of Tribulus terrestris reported by Citizen Scientists
Puncturevine is unlikely to be confused with other weeds.
USE PESTICIDES WISELY: ALWAYS READ THE ENTIRE PESTICIDE
LABEL CAREFULLY, FOLLOW ALL MIXING AND APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS AND WEAR
ALL RECOMMENDED PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR AND CLOTHING. CONTACT YOUR STATE
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL PESTICIDE USE REQUIREMENTS,
RESTRICTIONS OR RECOMMENDATIONS. MENTION OF PESTICIDE PRODUCTS
ON THIS WEB SITE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ENDORSEMENT OF ANY MATERIAL.
Mechanical: Tillage following germination and emergence is effective. However, tillage may bury seed that remain viable in the soil for several years. Hand-pulling is feasible for small infestations and is easiest when soils are moist and the vines are long enough to grasp. Mowing is ineffective due to the prostrate growth habit of the plant.
Biological: There are two species of weevils which are being used to control puncturevine. The stem boring weevil, Microlarinus lareynii and the fruit boring weevil Microlarinus lypriformis. The insect larvae attack the seeds and stems and have given good puncturevine control. Both insects are available in California for release.
Chemical: Chlorosulfuron, 2,4-D, imazapyr, MCPA, paraquat, glyphosate, and dicamba are effective on puncturevine. Consult the label for proper rate and timing.
Johnson, E. 1932. The puncturevine in California. Univ. of Calif. Agric. Expt. Sta. Bull. 528: 42 pp.
Parsons WT and Cuthbertson EG (1992). Noxious Weeds of Australia. Inkata Press, Melbourne, Australia..
Squires, V.R. 1979. The biology of Australian weeds. 1. Tribulus terrestris L. J. of the Australian Inst. of Agric. Sci. 179: 75-82.
Encycloweedia (California Department of Food and Agriculture).
Google Search: Tribulus terrestris
Google Images: Tribulus terrestris
NatureServe Explorer: Tribulus terrestris
USDA Plants: Tribulus terrestris
Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States: Tribulus terrestris
Bugwood Network Images: Tribulus terrestris