Puncture Vine to the Rescue??

Wait! What? Rescue!?!

Anyone with the unfortunate luck to step on one of these puppies or happen to bike through a patch of them knows the term rescue is not the word that just came out of your mouth.

Puncture vine seeds

Look at those pokies!

Let’s list all the ways goatheads (Tribulus terrestris) are evil:

The top 10 reason why we hate puncture vine.

  1. Their seeds are sharp and easily jam into your skin or bike tire.
  2. They typically grow along or in pathways or roadways.
  3. Each plant produces copious amounts of seeds.
  4. Their low profile to the ground makes them harder to pull.
  5. They have one thick, strong, and deep root (taproot).
  6. Multiple plants grow together creating a tangled web of pokey Hell!
  7. The seeds can last for years waiting for moisture to arrive.
  8. Spraying herbicides or even burning the seeds will not kill all of them.
  9. They are very drought tolerant.
  10. They are very persistent. Coming back year after year after year.

Now let’s take a look at why each of these complaints/irritations are actually helpful!

  1. Puncture vine is a pioneer weed. Meaning it is the ‘first responder’ to a soil heath emergency. Pokey seeds help them spread far and wide to do their work more quickly. Remember, weed seeds only germinate in ideal conditions.
  2. Pathways and roadways are usually heavily compacted and doused with chemicals to eliminate weeds. The influx of chemicals infiltrating the soil kills the soil life creating dead, compacted soil with no organic matter. These factors trigger germination because, as a pioneer weed, their job is to begin the process of regeneration.
  3. Lots of seeds means lots of plants and when the soil is crying for help and in desperate need of regeneration, the more ‘first responders’ on the scene, the better.
  4. Erosion and evaporation are huge contributors to soil degradation. A low profile helps shade the soil and collect organic debris as it blows across the landscape.
  5. Taproots de-compact. When the weed dies and the taproot rots, it leaves an opening deep into the soil where water and organic particles can enter. Slowly contributing to the rehabilitation of the soil.
  6. This goes back the the prevention of erosion and evaporation. The more the merrier!
  7. Pioneer species are super hardy. They are designed to withstand the harshest conditions to ensure regeneration.
  8. – 10. Same reasoning as #7.

Are you staring to see how puncture vine is a rescuer?

If left over time (decades) the soil beneath the plants would regenerate and become more fertile. As the fertility increases, fewer and fewer plants would germinate and eventually would stop all together.

So how can we speed this process up? By increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil and STOPPING the use of herbicides.

Here’s a list of my top 10 sources of organic matter.

Did you know that puncture vine is actually harvested and sold as a medicine?

Used since ancient times, it is reported to have a variety of health benefits, including reduced blood sugar and cholesterol, altered hormone levels and increased sexual function and libido.

I know, right?! I am just as shocked. Read more about the health benefit studies here.

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