Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Least Favorite Weed

When I go walking around the yard now, late in summer, I sometimes throw my hands up in despair because it pretty much seems that the weeds have taken over everything. There's ragweed  (Ambrosia artemisifolia) and Russian thistle (Salsola kali) and bindweed (Convulvus arvensis) and halogeton (Halogeton glomerulus) and cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). But of all the terrible weeds I see, there's one that gets my heart pounding and my fingers itching to pull it as quick as possible--puncture vine (Tribulus terrestris), also known as goathead or caltrop.

The cute ferny leaves and pretty yellow flowers are deceiving, making it seem like a friendly plant. Puncture vine is in the Zygophyllaceae family, also known as the creosote bush family. My husband's favorite plant is creosote bush, so how is it possible that my least favorite plant is in the same family? 

Puncture vine is originally from the Mediterranean, but it has spread quickly. These trailing tendrils make it obvious why someone decided to call it a vine. What about the puncture part? Take a look at this next photo.

These little green fruits are fairly innocuous early in the summer, but the heat and dryness of hot days makes them get harder and harder...

...until they turn into sharp brown thorns that break apart and make even more sharp brown thorns. These thorns are so sharp that I've gotten a flat bicycle tire, a flat stroller tire, and a flat wheelbarrow tire. Needless to say, all of these tires now contain Slime.

While I was photographing the puncture vine, Desert Boy took a fall, landing right on top of a mass of it. He started crying immediately and I think he's joined me in calling this his least favorite weed.

Here are a couple of the thorns stuck in his hand. The seeds remain viable for three to seven years, so even though I have pulled every plant that I've seen in the yard, I'll probably have to keep after them for years. And unfortunately there are plenty of seeds just outside our yard.

What's your least favorite weed?


The Incredible Woody said...


Germaine S said...

I mentioned this post in passing to a woman I work with, and she said it sounded like a weed she has and hates. So we took a look at it together and she said that she, here in Indiana, has an infestation of goathead. Her neighbor who is a farmer suggested Round Up as a remedy, which is not surprising because Round Up seems to be the solution to all weed problems. So your weed does not seem limited to the desert.

Sliv said...

Same weed was a menace in Southern California when I was a kid. I preferred barefoot--no flip flops in those days--until I hit a patch of goatheads. Least favorite for sure.

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