To remove a spine, pull it straight out from the direction it went in. Wash the area with hydrogen peroxide. You can also dab on some antibiotic cream, aloe, comfrey or witch hazel. Watch the puncture for signs of infection.
This noxious weed is widespread in drier climates and is found widely in the U.S. southwest and Rocky Mountain states. It’s expanding its range and has been identified as far north as British Columbia, Canada. Some communities are so desperate to control the species that they are paying a bounty of one dollar per trash bag to people who collect the plants.
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself stepping on a goat head weed spine. Lameness can occur in animals who step on the spines, which embed themselves in hooves or paws. The spines will go right through a soft-soled shoe and are murder on bare feet.
Removing a Spine
One nifty trick is to use a scrap of old carpet to collect the burrs. Simply press the carpet side down on the ground so the burrs stick to it. Then, dispose of the carpet.
Home remedies have mixed reviews, but Epsom salts and white vinegar is one method worth trying. The weed doesn’t like the acidic vinegar. Mix 1/2 cup of Epsom salts and 1/2 cup of white vinegar in a gallon of water. Pour over the plants so that it saturates the ground. Extension agents report that this may work on small patches but are not an overall effective way to deal with the problem.
Take precautions so that you don’t bring the burrs into the house. Wipe your shoes off on a rough mat outside. If you have been working in the yard or garden, remove your shoes on the porch or in a mudroom. Check your pants for signs of burrs. Sweep and vacuum floors frequently. You will also need to check your pet’s fur before they come in and jump on the couch.
To get rid of this nasty weed, you have to know a little bit about it. Goat head weed typically grows as a ground cover, but in less favorable conditions, the plant will start growing upward to seek sunshine. The plants have a central crown and the stems radiate out in a dense mat. Stems and leaves are covered with hairs and the branches can grow three feet from the crown.
Depending on their size and growth stage, you might want to adapt the following goat head control methods:
Pre-emergent weed killer is effective in killing seeds the moment they start to germinate. The herbicide stimulates germination to the levels that the seed can’t handle, and they end up using all the resources in the cotyledons, which results in death. Woo hoo!
The Burning Method for Mature Goat Heads
Because the plant itself is quite pretty, most people don’t realize that they’re dealing with these horrible thorns until one sticks into the sole of your shoe, punctures your bike tire, or worst of all: jabs right into the bottom of your bare foot.
Goat head stickers and the plant that produces them goes by many other common names including:
The most effective way to eliminate this weed is to pull it up by hand or use a hoe to cut the plant off the deep taproot. Try to do this while it’s still in the flower stage, before it seeds.
Master Gardeners don’t recommend chemical control for this weed unless you have a large area that is infested and it’s difficult to access for tilling the seedling plants under.
A: This is a weed I battle every summer as folks bring us the gift of this seed into our farm area their shoes. The annual weed puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) also known as goat heads, grows in a mat and produces many harmful spiked seeds.
Q: What is the best way to get rid of puncturevine? I have a couple of patches that have shown up in my yard.
One plant can produce 300 to 5,000 seeds per season, and can grow in mats up to five feet, so it’s definitely a weed you want to start controlling as soon as you see it sprouting up in your yard.