Puncturevine, invasive plant

Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris L.)

Puncturevine is an annual forb that grows in spreading stems forming mats up to 100 cm wide. It has yellow flowers with 5 petals that form into sharp pointed fruits 2-6mm long with 2-4 seeds. The leaves are oval and 5-15 mm long arranged oppositely along the stem. They are hairy and divided into 4-8 pairs. It reproduces only by seed and flowers between July and October.


Habitat & Ecology

Puncturevine thrives in the dry grasslands of the interior along roads, dry fields and disturbed areas. It has been spreading in the vineyards of the Okanagan because the spiny seeds get stuck to the underside of large plastic bins for the grape harvest. It can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.


The spiny burs can damage equipment on farms and harm livestock. The burs can also injure humans. The seeds can easily puncture skin and tires.  If ingested, puncturevine can be toxic to livestock especially sheep.


Puncturevine can be controlled by digging, hand-pulling and tilling as long as treatment takes place before flowering and seed set. It is best to minimize disturbance and plant a cover crop to out-compete any new seedlings that may sprout. For any other treatment types, like biocontrol, please contact LRISS for more information.


Province of British Columbia. 2002. A Guide to Weeds in British Columbia.