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Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) is a summer annual forb, and is native to Europe. The plant is prostrate or ascending, spreading into mat forming cover.
The stems are trailing and can grow to 1 1/2 to 5 feet long. Leaves are formed into leaflets, with each leaflet containing 5 to 8 oval leaves. The leaves are hairy and opposite. The flowers appear in July through October. They have five petals and are yellow in color. Each flower node will produce a fruit, at maturity the fruit will break into 5 seed capsules. Each seed capsule will produce 2-4 seeds. Each capsule is hard and contains many spines, almost tack like. The shape of the seed capsule has been referred to as a “goathead.” The seeds will propagate after the first moisture of the spring and then any wet period following. Seeds can stay viable for 4 to 5 years.
In spite of its generally prostrate habit, puncturevine is a serious competitor with crops, particularly in dry conditions where its ability to extract moisture from great depths is an advantage. The seed capsules can cause injury to humans, animals, and tires. Seeds can be found in hay, which may cause injury to animals. The capsules can also become entangled in wool, and decrease the quality.
The most successful biological control agents for puncturevine are Microlarinus lareynii, a seed feeding weevil, and Microlarinus lypriformis, a stem boring weevil. M. lareynii and M. lypriformis have been collected from established colonies around the state. Redistribution of M. lareynii and M. lypriformis is available upon request. Microlarinus are normally shipped mixed together in containers of 100-200 adults depending on availability, which can vary year to year.
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