Puncture Vine, Tribulus terrestris

Puncture Vine
Tribulus terrestris


Flowers & Leaves

Fruit/"Goat's Head"/"Bullhead"

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Family: Zygophyllaceae, Caltrop Family
Plant Size: Prostrate vine - generally less than 1" (2.5 cm) high, spreading to 5' (1.5 M) long in our area.
Blooms in: Fall
Habitat Preferred: Disturbed earth, weedy fields, roadsides
Photo(s) taken at: Tavasci Marsh. 9/29/99
Bloom Color: Yellow tiny flowers
Other Common Names: Goat's head, Bullhead, *!#&! stickers!
Origin: Mediterranean
Comments: This is that obnoxious weed whose seeds are incredibly painful to step on, get tracked into your carpet, puncture your bicycle tires, and have to be pulled out of your pets' paws. The seed pod grows 4 "bullheads" in a circle (see photo), when mature it breaks up into 4 separate instruments of torture. The plant is naturalized, originally from the Mediterranean. It is a pest plant wherever it resides in the US. In Europe the plant has been used in folk medicine throughout history, treating such wide-ranging conditions as headache, nervous disorders, constipation, and sexual dysfunction. In China, it has been touted for use in liver, kidney, urinary, and cardiovascular remedies.
Further Reference & Sources: "Arizona Flora", Kearney, Peebles, et. al., Univ. of California Press, 1951 w/1960 supp.;   "A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona", Anne Orth Epple, 1995, Falcon Press
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