No one calls this obnoxious weed by its real name, “Tribulus Terrestris.”  Here in Tri-Cities, the most common names are Goat Head, Devil’s Thorn, Tack Weed, or Puncturevine. Whatever you choose to call it, this weed is prevalent in Tri-Cities and eastern Washington and it seems to grow with or without water – in lawns, pastures, parking lots, and in the nooks and cracks of sidewalks. This weed is one of the most hated weeds in our area – except for one instance, which I will explain later.

Photo: nwcb.wa.gov
Photo: nwcb.wa.gov
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How is the Goat Head Weed Spread?

WA Noxious Weed Control Board
WA Noxious Weed Control Board
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If you can believe this, the thorns produced by Tribulus Terrestris are actually prickly fruit – yes, fruit - the Devil's fruit. This fruit thorn can pop a bike tire, cause severe pain when stepped on, and even draw blood from its victims - mostly humans and animals. The weed is spread when the fruit breaks into thorny seeds. The seeds then stick to the bottom of shoes, car tires, and bike tires – so, as you can imagine, the weed spreads very quickly.

How do you kill Goat Heads?

Canva-Getty
Canva-Getty
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Goat heads can be killed using a variety of methods. The best method is to physically pull the weed, root, and all – using gloves – before seeds drop. Other methods include using a potent weed killer or if the seeds have already dropped, using a propane burning torch will do the trick.

How did a Goat Head save a home from burning down?

Canva-Getty
Canva-Getty
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In Tri-Cities, if you notice your dog limping during a walk, 9 out of 10 times, a goat head thorn is the cause.  I know this from many experiences walking our dog, and on one such instance a few years ago, my wife and I took our dog for an evening walk along the river in Wade Park, which is across the street from the house.  It was dark and we noticed our dog was in pain and stopped walking. We discovered a goat head had lodged between his toenails, and after a number of attempts it became very clear we couldn’t remove it without returning home to work in the light - so, I carried our dog back home. As we approached our house I noticed the kitchen window had smoke pouring out. When we opened the door we discovered our stove on fire – we thought we left dinner on low (it was actually on high) before going for a walk.  Luckily, we were able to extinguish the fire ourselves and the only damage was the smell of smoke. So, that’s how a goat head saved the day and that’s the only time I have been thankful for them.

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